This photo, taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows a pair of shoes resting on the sea floor amidst the wreck of the Titanic. It's a powerful image, on its own. But with the background information, it becomes downright tear jerking.
Note the position of those shoes. Now think about the position of your feet if you were to lie on the floor, on your side, with your ankles crossed. This is not a coincidence. On his blog, NPR's Robert Krulwich quotes Titanic explorer Robert Ballard:
"There used to be bodies in those shoes. The body parts deteriorated, and the skeletal remains decalcified. The only thing left are the shoes, and the leather is perfectly preserved." The tannin in the shoe leather had apparently resisted the bacteria.
Read the rest of Robert Krulwich's post on shoes at sea, including information about the Titanic, as well as shoes spilled from lost shipping containers.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.