Robert H. Rines

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Robert Harvey Rines (August 30, 1922 – November 1, 2009) was an American lawyer, inventor, musician, and composer. He is perhaps best known for his efforts to find and identify the Loch Ness Monster.


Rines was born August 30, 1922 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from M.I.T. in 1943, a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University in 1946, and a Ph.D. from National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan in 1972. During World War II Rines served as an Army Signal Corps officer and helped develop the Microwave Early Warning System.

He held numerous U.S. patents on a wide variety of subjects. Although various on-line sources give their number as 80, 100, and even 200, the list published by the Franklin Pierce Law Center [1] gives their number as 81, and 3 additional ones (Nos. 6,175,326, 7,314,178, and 7,392,192) can also be found in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records.[2] However, 12 of those in the larger list are referred to as “applications only”, leaving 72 actually issued U.S. patents.

He was a renowned intellectual property lawyer, and in March 2004 received the Boston Patent Law Association "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his contributions in the field of intellectual property. Rines also was inducted as member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1994 and the U.S. Army Signal Corps Wall of Fame. He was the founder of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, a private law school located in Concord, New Hampshire, and the Academy of Applied Science, a Massachusetts and New Hampshire based organization dedicated to stimulating the interest of high school students in science, technology, and inventions. He was a lecturer at Harvard University and M.I.T. and a member of the Technical Advisory Board of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Rines was also an accomplished musician and composer. At age eleven he played a violin duet with Albert Einstein at a summer camp in Maine.[citation needed] As a composer he wrote music for both Broadway and off-Broadway shows, including Blast and Bravos, a musical based on the life of H. L. Mencken. He also composed scores for O'Casey's Drums Under the Windows, O'Neill's Long Voyage Home, and Strindberg's Creditors. He shared an Emmy Award with playwright Paul Shyre in 1987 for the television and later Broadway play Hizzoner the Mayor.[citation needed]

His philanthropic activities included establishing the GREAT Fund, providing educational grants for a large extended family in perpetuity.[citation needed]

In May 2008 Rines retired from his position at M.I.T. after 45 years. He died November 1, 2009 at the age of 87.

Because there are many references both on paper and on-line (including ones in nearly all previous versions of this Wikipedia article) to his having invented image-scanning radar and sonar, it is necessary to clarify the actual facts here. First, none of his 23 earliest patents [3] which are the ones that describe methods intended to accomplish such resolution,and which were applied for while he was still in his twenties, are similar to the successful methods.,[4][5] Second, his proposals could not have succeeded if they had ever been tried. This is because all relied upon a mistaken belief that “microwave lenses” of various materials could focus those waves to form usefully detailed images of aircraft, vessels, or other large and distant objects.[6] The missing consideration was that, because the wavelengths of microwaves are many thousands of times larger than those of light waves, any devices for using microwave lenses, and any images they form, must be that much larger than are optical ones, hence impracticably large to build. Third, the “invented” portions of those patents neither attempted nor claimed to create the fine resolution, but were about various means for converting the already focused (and supposedly small) lens-formed “microwave images” into visible-light images.[6] Fourth, the expected images were always shown as projections onto planes normal to the radar-to-target direction,[6] whereas actual high-resolution radar images are necessarily projections onto planes containing both the path of the moving radar and the radar-to-target direction. Those two types of planes are perpendicular to each other, and the image appearances in each therefore differ considerably from each other.[7]

Quest for "Nessie"[edit]

During a visit to Scotland in 1972, Rines reported seeing “a large, darkish hump, covered ... with rough, mottled skin, like the back of an elephant” in Loch Ness. Over the next 35 years he mounted numerous expeditions to the loch and searched its depths with sophisticated electronic and photographic equipment, mostly of his own design. While his investigations produced multiple theories and several tantalizing photographs, he was unable to produce sufficient evidence to convince the scientific community of the existence of the fabled monster. For this he received the Dinsdale Memorial Award in 2004.[8]


  1. ^ Pierce Law Center IP Mall, “Patent Index for Dr. Robert H. Rines”
  2. ^ USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database; Rines, Robert H.
  3. ^ 3 U. S. Patent Nos. 2,528,725; 2,528,726; 2,528,727; 2,528,728; 2,528,729; 2,528,730; 2,553,606; 2,571,163; 2,571,164; 2,571,165; 2,571,612; 2,610,245; 2,611,894; 2,627,600; 2,673,343; 2,696,522; 2,711,440; 2,711,530; 2,711,534; 2,833,854; 2,863,941; 2,864,029; 2,864,030
  4. ^ "A short history of the Optics Group of the Willow Run Laboratories," Emmett N. Leith, in Trends in Optics: Research, Development, and Applications (book), Anna Consortini (editor), Academic Press, San Diego: 1996
  5. ^ U.S. Patent No. 3,427.104; “Optical plural channel signal data processor” and any of the many books and articles on Synthetic Aperture Radar.
  6. ^ a b c See illustrations in any of the patents in Ref. 3
  7. ^ Wikipedia, Synthetic Aperture Radar, “Image appearance”
  8. ^ Dinsdale Memorial Award 2008

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