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    Re: Can someone identify this
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2008 Nov 11, 22:29 -0000

    Bruce Hamilton asked-
    "Anyone need something for their collection? What exactly is it?
    a Zerbee "Fix Finder". Perhaps it's THE Zerbee Fix Finder. described inthe US 
    patent 2519532 , attached. It could be the prototype, perhaps 
    theone-and-only, because it's labelled serial number 1; the invention of 
    LouisB Zerbee, patent granted 1950. You can dial up the details in 
    GooglePatents.I've never seen one or even heard of it before. It claims to be 
    able tosolve one OR MORE spherical triangles, simultaneously, so could 
    presumablyresult in a fix from a pair of star altitudes. I admit to not 
    having studiedthe details of the patent in any detail. These things are 
    written in aspecial arcane language that seems intended to obscure more than 
    it reveals.It seems to be a development of the armillary sphere, an 
    analoguerepresentation of the Earth and sky, allowing spherical triangles to 
    besolved. Such armillary spheres first appeared in China in the 
    first-centuryBC. The nearest thing to this device I've seen (in print) is the 
    Mariner'sCalculator, in Janet Taylor's "Navigation simplified" of  1849, but 
    thatcould solve only one spherical triangle at a time.But this one is FAR 
    more sophisticated. Just look at the profusion of arcscales, each fitted with 
    its own micrometer readout. No expense has beenspared in its construction; 
    which may be why it wasn't developed further. Itwould be interesting to 
    discover what accuracy was achievable.It's the sort of instrument I would 
    love to own. You could play with it forhours. I expect it will fetch a lot 
    more than the present bid, and shouldreally find a home in a museum. Perhaps 
    a Museum of Complication, if such aspeciality exists.George.contact George 
    Huxtable, now at george@hux.me.ukor at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 
    820222)or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    Navigation List archive: www.fer3.com/arc
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