top header
top gradation HOME top vertical line top vertical line top vertical line top vertical line top vertical line top vertical line top vertical line menu gray
black line 2
menu gray tab More About ATI
menu blue ATI — Who We Are
white line
menu blue Contact ATI Courses
white line
menu blue List Of ATI Courses
white line
menu blue Attendees Testimonials
white line
menu blue The ATI FAQ Sheet
white line
menu blue Suggestions/Wait List
white line
menu blue New Courses
white line
menu blue Become an ATI Instructor
menu gray tab site resources
menu blue Acoustics & Sonar
white line
menu blue Rockets & Space
white line
menu blue GPS Technology
white line
menu blue ATI Blog
white line
menu blue ATI Space News
white line
menu blue ATI Site Map
white line
menu blue ATI Staff Tutorials
white line
menu blue ATI Sampler Page
white line
menu gray tab bar
menu gray tab courses
white line
menu blue Current Schedule
white line
menu blue Onsite Courses
white line
menu blue Register Online
white line
menu blue Request Brochure
white line
menu blue Free On-Site Price Quote
white line
menu blue Download Catalog
white line
menu blue Distance Learning
black line  

Using Wounded Dogs to Navigate Ships on the High Seas

By Tom Logsdon

Finding the latitude of a sailing ship can be surprisingly easy: sight the elevation of the Pole Star above the local horizon. Finding longitude turns out to be quite a bit harder because, as the earth rotates, the stars sweep across the sky 15 degree every hour. A one second timing error thus translates into a 0.25 nautical mile error in position. How is it possible to measure time on board a ship at sea with sufficient accuracy to make two-dimensional a practical enterprise?

One 18th century innovator, whose name has long since been forgotten, advocated the use of a special patent medicine said to involve some rather extraordinary properties. Unlike other popular nostrums of the day, the Power of Sympathy, as its inventor, Sir Klenm Digby, called it, was applied not to the wound but to the weapon that inflicted it. The World of Mathematics, a book published by Simon and Schuster, describes how this magical remedy was to be employed as an aid to maritime navigation.

Before sailing, every ship should be furnished with a wounded dog. A reliable observer on shore, equipped with a reliable clock and a bandage from the dog's wound, would do the rest. very hour on the dot, he would immerse the dog's bandage in a solution of the Power of Sympathy and the dog on shipboard would yelp the hour.

As far as we know, this intriguing method of navigation was never actually tested under realistic field conditions, so we have no convincing evidence that it would have worked as advertised.

spacer