On December 12, 1901, Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi stood on a hill overlooking St. John's, Newfoundland, and received the first radio message ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean. That fateful message was just a few Morse pulses—the letter 'S', in fact—but it changed the face of the twentieth century. This month marks the 114th anniversary of Marconi's milestone, so we've asked Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings to get on the air and clear the air about some of the most appalling misconceptions from radio's first century.
The Debunker: Was the Titanic the First Ship to Issue an "SOS"?
James Cameron's Titanic taught its fans two things. First, never trust Billy Zane. Second, the standard radio distress call in 1912 was not the familiar Morse SOS in use today. Cameron is careful to explain this little historical curio to his late-'90s, Hanson-listening audience.
That's right. The distress call. (Looks at camera.)
CQD. (Does "Jim Halpert face.")
In movie theaters, the scene ended there. On the DVD, a deleted scene shows the wireless crew deciding to mix in the new-fangled distress signal SOS as well. "It may be our only chance to use it," one jokes.