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Bad rivets, high-priced time and a metallic balloon dog


AMM does its best to be your go-to place for metals news and market information, but we don't have a lock on coverage of every link in the metals supply chain. And that includes the defective, highly expensive or kitschy art links, as exemplified in these stories from the general media.

And you always thought it was an iceberg.

A new book argues that defective rivets were partly responsible for sinking the Titanic in 1912. The book, by metallurgists Jennifer Hooper McCarty and Timothy Foecke, received widespread attention in the media when it was published in April. While the theory isn't new, the authors presented extensive research into the engineering and shipmaking conditions of the time to back up the main thesis.

"Under the pressure to get these ships up, they ramped up the riveters, found materials from additional suppliers, and some was not of quality," Foecke told the Associated Press.

While researching the book, "What Really Sank the Titanic," the authors tested 48 rivets from the ship and discovered slag concentrations of 9 percent, far above the normal 2- to 3-percent levels. This wasn't responsible for sinking the ship—no one argues that the iceberg was a scapegoat for human folly—but the poorly made rivets did cause the Titanic to sink far more quickly than it otherwise might have.

Harland & Wolff, the Belfast, Northern Ireland-based shipyard that built the Titanic, said the theory is wrong. "We always say there was nothing wrong with the Titanic when it left (the yard)," a spokesman told the Associated Press.

The Titanic was much in the news in April, with plenty of media coverage given to a new luxury watch made from steel salvaged from the wreck of the liner.

The watch, called "Day and Night," sells for around $300,000. Despite—or perhaps because of—the high price tag, the limited-edition timepiece sold out within hours of going on sale, with Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo reportedly among the buyers.

Perhaps in a sly tribute to the Titanic
a ship that didn't float—the watch has a special twist It doesn't tell the time. Instead of a dial, it features a dark half to signify night and a light half to signify day.

"Anyone can buy a watch that shows time, but only a discerning customer can buy one that doesn't," Yvan Arpa, chief executive of the watch's manufacturer, Romain Jerome, said.

The Titanic sank, but can metal float? Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York could be forgiven for believing so after seeing the stainless "Balloon Dog (Yellow)" sculpture by artist Jeff Koons. The sculpture, part of an exhibition of works displayed on the roof of the museum overlooking Central Park, seems to be about to float into the sky, despite its steel structure.

The work was described as a "masterpiece" by the New York Times, which raved about "aesthetic and erotic perversity." Information about where Koons sourced the stainless for the sculpture was sadly lacking.

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