Inventor who claimed to have seen Nessie dies
U.S. National Inventors Hall of Famer Robert H. Rines was a lawyer, composer, inventor and physicist.
Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 08:31 AM
NESSIE: The 87-year-old inventor claims to have seen the Loch Ness monster, devoting a portion of his life to proving its existence. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Robert H. Rines, a lawyer, composer, inventor and physicist whose discoveries led to sharper resolution in radar, sonar and ultrasound imaging and who claimed to have seen the Loch Ness Monster, has died. He was 87.
Rines died of heart failure at his home in Boston on Sunday, surrounded by his family, his wife, Joanne Hayes-Rines, told The Associated Press on Monday.
Rines invented prototype radar and sonar technology that was later also incorporated in ultrasound imaging of internal organs. He donated the radar patent to the U.S. government and gave the imaging patent to the rest of the world to use for free, Hayes-Rines said.
Rines held more than 80 patents. The radar technology patent — developed while he was a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's radiation laboratory and honed while serving as a U.S. Signal Corps' officer during WWII — formed the underlying technology used to guide Patriot missiles during the 1991 Gulf War and produce early warning missile-detection systems and other sophisticated military hardware.
He also wrote music for more than 10 Broadway and off-Broadway productions and shared an Emmy for his work on a piece about former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.
Born in Boston, Rines graduated from the MIT and received a law degree from Georgetown. He completed a doctorate thesis at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.
He also is the founder of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, the state's only law school that is also known for its intellectual property law program, and the Academy of Applied Science, a nonprofit group that promotes creativity and interest in science.
Rines used some of his inventions in attempts to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, and claimed to have seen Nessie in 1971.
"You don't get into this passion of trying to find Nessie if you haven't seen it, and he did see it with his late wife, Carol, and two friends," Hayes-Rines said.
The encounter enticed Rines to go back to the Scottish lake every few years, hoping to use better imaging and tracking technology to capture sharper images of the animal. He previously said it looked like a plesiosaur, a dinosaur that lived under water millions of years ago.
"It was maybe 45 feet in length with a neck 4 or 5 feet long, according to eyewitness accounts," he once said.
Rines taught for over 50 years at MIT, focusing on invention, patents and innovation before retiring in May 2008. He also has been Gordon McKay Lecturer on Patent Law at Harvard University.
Rines was motivated by a determination to find creative solution to problems.
"He just thought of things that nobody ever thought of, he just thought there was nothing you couldn't do if you think about it and you wanted to do it, just figure out how to get it done," Hayes-Rines said.
In 1985, researchers used underwater vessels that used sonar technology developed by Rines to find the Titanic, which sank in more than 12,400 feet of water in 1912. The systems were used to find the wreck of the German battleship Bismarck, which was sunk during World War II. Rines' inventions also became key parts of long-range navigation systems, in which sea vessels and aircraft are located by determining the time difference between pulsed radio transmissions from two stations.
Rines has been inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame and the U.S. Army Signal Regiment, as a distinguished member His underwater photographs of Loch Ness hang in the American Inventors Hall of Fame along with a painting of how he imagined Nessie might look.
Rines is survived by his wife, two sons, a daughter and stepdaughter. A memorial service is set for Saturday.