“I have been informed by a European acquaintance that the Maelstrom, that great whirlpool on the coast of Norway, has no existence. He told me that a nautical and scientific commission, appointed by the King of Denmark, was sent to approach as near as possible to the edge of the whirlpool, sail around it, measure its circumference, observe its action and make a report. They went out and sailed all around where the Maelstrom was said to be, but the sea was as smooth as any other part of the German ocean. I had been instructed to believe that the Maelstrom was a fixed fact, and that ships, and even huge whales, were sometimes dragged within its terrible liquid coils, and buried forever.”

Scientific American, February 1857

More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our shiny anniversary page.