I do not see how two ships can alter their bearings when stopped Lord Mersey


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Tad G. Fitch

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Hi Paul, yes he did. I was just thinking out loud regarding another factor that might have further confused Stone, if one is giving him the benefit of the doubt that he believed the vessel was altering its bearings.

I was not addressing how that could affect the actual process of taking or calculating bearings to the vessel, I was thinking more about factors that could visually confuse a person watching the ship with the naked eye or binoculars. To avoid retreading old ground, I'll leave that to others who are much more familiar with this particular navigational issue than I am. I see that earlier in this discussion, Sam touched on how this swinging might have impacted the taking of bearings on the vessel:

Sam Halpern wrote:
"The problem was with Stone's observations, and the fact that the Californian's head was swinging around, which I believe was not always in the same direction all the time. The result was confusion as well as coming to wrong conclusions. If you took the relative bearing to an object and then added or subtracted that from the magnetic heading of the ship, you should get the magnetic bearing to the object. But if the ship was swinging between the time that the two observations were taken giving the appearance that the observed ship was steaming away because its relative bearings were changing fast, and if you did not bother to check ship's heading at that time, then your result for the magnetic bearing to the object will be in error."

Hope you have a good day,
Tad
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Jesse first. A good example would be Carpathia's mast lights coming up above the horizon in the early morning hours about 3:30 AM Still before any daylight). According to Beesley's account they noticed the two mastlights come up rapidly, first one then a second below the first. As far as I can tell from photographs of the Carpathia, her mast lights were about 90 and 110 ft above waterline. If that were the case, and taking height of eye in the lifeboat at 3 ft above water, the mast lights of the Carpathia were visible when she was 13 to 14 miles off while the rest of the ship was still below the horizon.

Paul Lee. Gibson did say that Stone was taking bearings, but that does not mean it was literally on a continuous basis. Stone did not have his glasses on the steamer's lights all the time by his own admission if I recall correctly.

And I still believe the swinging of the Californian may not have been in the same clockwise direction all the time which would have added to the confusion. Gibson was asked at one point which way he saw his ship swing:
7772. To show you her red light she must have been heading to the northward of N. N. W., on your story? - Yes.
7773. And your head was falling away; which way? - To northward.
7774. To northward and westward? - Northward and eastward.

7775. You were heading E. N. E.? - Yes - to northward and westward.
7776. To the northward it was at any rate, and if you pass to northward you would get to the northward and west? - Yes.
7777. I understand you to say you got to W. S. W.? - Yes.
7778. What was causing that? - We were swinging round.
7779. You told us you never saw the green light of this vessel? - No.
7780. Was the glare of light which you saw on the afterpart of this vessel forward or aft of the masthead light? - Abaft the masthead light.
7781. So that you would be seeing her starboard side? - No, her port side.
7782. The glare of light which you say was aft, was aft of the masthead lights? - Yes.
7783. Was that to your left or your right as you were looking at her? - To the right.
7784. Do you mean the masthead light was to the right? - No, the masthead light was to the left.
7785. Was that before you saw her apparently steaming to the south-west? - Yes.
7786. Did you see her turn round? - No.

Yet despite all this, the relative bearings of the rockets he reported were continuously advancing from starboard side to port side showing an average swing in the clockwise direction. Was Gibson confused? Or did Gibson notice the lights of the steamer swing to the right as his ship was swing counter-clockwise when Stone reported that she was "steaming away to the SW?"
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Samuel

Thank you for correcting my view on the term Hull Down. I will have to ask other seamen about this just to have it confirmed.

However if you what you say is true:

~Hull down simply means that the waterline of the ship was beyond the visible horizon. From the bridge of the Californian the visible horizon was roughly about 7.5 nautical miles. If the Titanic was 13 miles away everything from D deck and up would be seen from the Californian. Only the lower 20 ft of her above waterline hull would be invisible~

This still leaves rows of lights exposed.

now to look at this from another angle:

Titanic facing North 7.5 Miles from titanic, being viewed by Stone and Gibson? Could this be the case? No! Unlike some people would have us believe a ship not moving under her own power will swing, therefore even if Titanic was facing North she would eventually swing so that all or most of her lights would be exposed, and yet some people wish to have us believe that Titanic 7.5-13 miles away was facing North the whole time.

It should also be noted that Stone came to the conclusion the Ship was moving from close examination by taking bearings of the ship continuously. It would require a pretty big mistake for a swinging ship to be mistakened for a moving ship.

Both stone and Gibson Concluded the ship they were watching was a Tramp through careful examination (Mainly Lights and Masthead lights)
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hi Jesse, how are you?

You wrote:
"This still leaves rows of lights exposed."

Not if the Titanic was pointed North towards the Californian, shutting off the lights along most of the length of her hull to any vessel in that direction. This has already been covered at length in this discussion.

"Unlike some people would have us believe a ship not moving under her own power will swing"

That's correct. I don't know who you are referring to, but nobody here has suggested that the Titanic did not swing at all. What has been discussed is that as per the evidence, the Titanic did not drift much, with her stern slowly rotating more towards the south. Compare this to the description given by Gibson, and you can see that the Californian was turning much more than the Titanic was.

"therefore even if Titanic was facing North she would eventually swing so that all or most of her lights would be exposed, and yet some people wish to have us believe that Titanic 7.5-13 miles away was facing North the whole time."

The evidence (Rowe, etc.) suggests that she did not turn that much, so the assumption that she would have exposed more lights is not based on any evidence that exists.

Hope you have a nice day,
Tad
 
Mar 22, 2003
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"It would require a pretty big mistake for a swinging ship to be mistakened for a moving ship."

Not really. Remember, ships were not seen, only their lights. When a far off ship presented its green sidelight initially, then both green and red, it is easy to assume that the ship was initially moving to starboard and then turned toward and was approaching. If it continued to turn such that only its red light remained it would appear to be moving off to port. If it continued to turn such that the sidelight shut out leaving only a stern light, then the ship would appear to moving away. Unless you have some other reference, it would be difficult to tell absolute movement at a great distance.

Changing bearings is one such reference. If the bearings to that steamer really changed as Stone claimed, then that ship was indeed moving. And this leads exactly to the heart of the issue. How could the bearing to the rockets from the Titanic follow a ship that was moving with a change of bearings of 6 1/2 points? Stone claimed the bearings began to change after the 1st rocket. Paul Slish suggested that Stone was mistaken, that the bearings of the ship didn't start to change until after the last rocket went up. According to Gibson, Stone first remarked to him the the steamer appeared to be moving to the SW at 1:20, but Stone and Gibson were not in agreement on time except when Gibson was sent down to call on Lord. We know Gibson was watching the steamer aqnd observed her red sidelight. So if the steamer was steaming away to the SW since after the first rocket it must have been doing so in reverse. If the steamer first started to steam away during the 20-25 minutes between the last rocket and time Gibson was sent down to Lord, it must have been doing better than the Lusitania to cover the bearing change that was observed as I pointed out in a post above.

No matter how you look at it, there is no practical way to explain what Stone said he saw. Either he was greatly mistaken, or he was trying to protect himself when it became obvious that what they were looking at was a ship in distress. At least Gibson finally admitted to that in his testimony:
7756. Then you thought it was a case of some kind of distress? - (Gibson) Yes.
 

Paul Slish

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Sam wrote. "A good example would be Carpathia's mast lights coming up above the horizon in the early morning hours about 3:30 AM Still before any daylight). According to Beesley's account they noticed the two mastlights come up rapidly, first one then a second below the first. As far as I can tell from photographs of the Carpathia, her mast lights were about 90 and 110 ft above waterline. If that were the case, and taking height of eye in the lifeboat at 3 ft above water, the mast lights of the Carpathia were visible when she was 13 to 14 miles off while the rest of the ship was still below the horizon."

I don't understand something here. If Beesley first saw the "Carpathia"'s light at 3:30 a.m. and she stopped around 4:00 a.m. then that is only 30 minutes. The "Carpathia" slackened speed some the last 30 minutes as she was dodging icebergs. So I would say she covered at most 6 or 7 miles in the final 30 minutes of steaming. That means Beesley first saw the masthead light when the "Carpathia" was 6 or 7 miles off. That sounds reasonable. Where do you come up with 13 to 14 miles off?

Thanks, Paul S.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Paul: A few points to consider here.

Beesley was just estimating the time. He was not looking at a watch. He also was not near Boxhall's boat since they had to row quite a bit to get the Carpathia later in the morning. They would have been a few miles further away. Lifeboats were scattered over a distance of 3 to 4 miles according to Rostron's observation after daylight came up.

As far as the speed of the Carpathia, when she came close to picking up Boxhall's boat near 4 AM:

25467... At what speed were you going when you saw this iceberg about a quarter of a mile from you? - [Rostron] I should think we were making something about 15; the engines had been stopped for about three minutes - probably between 13 and 15 knots at the time.

25473. Then I want to know how close it was - you had an iceberg within your range of vision then - you went to the iceberg when you starboarded? - [Rostron] This was the boat over here. (Describing.) I did not know the distance off. Here was the iceberg right ahead. I was coming along there; I saw the iceberg right ahead here, and I saw the light was on my port bow. Of course, I could not see the boat itself, but only the light when he showed the flare. I came along here and starboarded, and brought her here. Then I saw the light on my starboard side. I saw the light showing. It was getting close. I went full speed astern. I went a little bit past the boat before I could get the way off the ship, and I came back again, because they sang out from the boat that they had only one seaman, and could not handle her. I brought the ship back to the boat. When the boat was alongside of me daylight broke, and I found the berg was about a quarter of a mile off.

My distance numbers come from the extreme range equation which is taken as D = 1.17 sqrt H, where H is height of eye or height of light above sea level in ft, and D is in nautical miles. D is the distance to visible horizon. You first find D for the observer in the boat, then find D for the height of light, and add the two results.

and click on geographic range to get the same result directly.

Of course I may be wrong on the mast head light heights somewhat, but I believe my numbers are not too far off. Feel free to play around with my height assumptions.

Take care.
 

Noel F. Jones

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Loath as I am to find myself in this contentious vicinity; since happenstance has brought me here:

Re: Lifeboats Don’t Lie!

“And yet the Californian, while stationary, was also drifting south...

The estimates of drift given at the Inquiries all centre of one half-mile per hour (half a knot). The declination of the Titanic wreck from the New York track suggests it was more, but let us allow half a knot.

In three hours therefore (from 1am to 4am), the Californian will have "come to meet" the lifeboats through drift by 1½ miles from her previous position.

Crawford and his lead lifeboat, instead of being 2-3 miles away, should now be as close as half a mile (to 1½ miles) from the Mystery Ship - if she is the Californian. She should present an unmistakable sight.”


I feel constrained to observe that, on the probabilities, oceanic set (“drift”) is not so locally predictable, not in general and certainly not in this specific, that it can be related to one object floating over the seabed and not to another within “2-3 miles” of it.

In other words, the cluster of lifeboats in question would be labouring against the same set!

It should follow that the element of oceanic set should be removed from the particular equation being postulated and the respective floating objects re-distanced accordingly, that is to say, a reversion to “2-3 miles” in the present rationale. As to whether Californian would present the same “unmistakable sight” from this revised perspective I shall leave others to address

Otherwise I have no further reservations.

Noel
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Noel: If you are saying that drift due to current is not a factor in the relative positions of the lifeboats, the stopped Californian, the stopped Titanic, or any other stopped ship in the vicinity, then you are of course 100% correct. What I disagree with in the Senan's paper "Lifeboats Don’t Lie!" is his acceptance of the distance estimates to the mystery ship as being the true distance between the the two ships. All distance estimates were based on the brightness of the lights seen. This point is made in many places by different witnesses. There were nothing else for one to judge distance from. No visible horizon. No part of the hull form seen. Nothing but the brightness of lights upon which to base distance estimates. And on a such a clear and calm night, that basis can be very misleading, even from the most experienced observers.
 

John Flood

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Don't wish to throw a grenade in here, but on the subject of lights, didn't Captain Smith suggest to one of the lifeboats to row towards the lights, presumably a ship, and come back to collect more passengers?

This would suggest that a ship would have to have been closer by than the 10 or so miles usually mentioned. Could Captain Smith have been that completely wrong in his estimation of the distance between his ship and the lights?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Yes he could and was. Lifeboat No. 8 it was. Just a few extracts:

From testimony of steward Crawford at the American Inquiry:

Mr. CRAWFORD. Yes; the captain told me to get in the boat and row toward that light. He told us to row for the light and to land the people there and come back to the ship. We pulled until daybreak and we could not catch the ship.

Mr. CRAWFORD. They were stationary masthead lights, one on the fore and one on the main. Everybody saw them - all the ladies in the boat. They asked if we were drawing nearer to the steamer, but we could not seem to make any headway, and when day broke we saw another steamer coming up which proved to be the Carpathia; and then we turned around and came back. We were the farthest boat away.

Mr. CRAWFORD. Capt. Smith could see the light quite plain, as he pointed in the direction that we were to make for. We pulled toward the light, and we could not reach it.

Senator BURTON. Did she seem then to be moving toward you?
Mr. CRAWFORD. No; she seemed more like she was stationary.
Senator BURTON. You thought she was coming toward you?
Mr. CRAWFORD. We thought she was coming toward us.
Senator BURTON. Why did you think she was coming toward you?
Mr. CRAWFORD. Sometimes she seemed to get closer; other times she seemed to be getting away from us.
Senator BURTON. Those lights remained visible until it became daylight, did they?
Mr. CRAWFORD. Yes, sir.
Senator BURTON. You say others in the boat recognized those lights?
Mr. CRAWFORD. Yes, sir; all the ladies. The lady with the tiller saw it.
Senator FLETCHER. How far away could you see those lights? Have you had any experience to enable you to judge how far that ship was away from you?
Mr. CRAWFORD. I should say it would not be any more than 10 miles at the moat; because, being in a low boat, you can not see like being raised high.
Senator FLETCHER. But you could see the lights very distinctly?
Mr. CRAWFORD. Very distinctly; yes, sir.

Crawford at the British Inquiry:

17870. Did you yourself ever see any sidelights? - Yes.
17871. You did? - Yes.
17872. What sidelight or sidelights of that steamer did you see? - There was the red and the green light.
17873. You saw them both? - Yes.

Rowing toward a steamer that was pointing toward them for some time. Not appearing to make any headway. What would you suppose would cause that if the steamer was only a short distance away?
 

Tad G. Fitch

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"This would suggest that a ship would have to have been closer by than the 10 or so miles usually mentioned."

I wouldn't put too much credence in that argument, since the lifeboat never made any significant progress towards the ship they saw, as Sam already pointed out.

Despite what some people have tried hard in the past to have you believe, examination of all the evidence from the Titanic witnesses (both on the ship and in the lifeboats) shows that they generally estimate the vessel on the horizon was around 5-10 miles away, and similar estimates were given by Californian witnesses, some on the low end of that estimate, some on the higher end. And besides, as Sam said, we can't take the estimates at face value, we need to examine all of the evidence as a whole, since there was no horizon to judge distance from, and because the estimates do vary.

Sam wrote:
"Rowing toward a steamer that was pointing toward them for some time. Not appearing to make any headway. What would you suppose would cause that if the steamer was only a short distance away?"

Another question, how could this be possible if the vessel on the horizon was steaming towards the scene, as proponents of the three or four ship theories claim? Then we have a lifeboat rowing towards a vessel pointing towards them and steaming, yet not making any progress at all. It doesn't add up.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Yes the witnesses on the Californian describe a ship 5-10 Miles away. Lord, Stone, and Gibson all describe a Tramp Steamer. Grove a passanger ship, and also Gill whose evidence I choose not to relie on as he always seems to be changing the details.

Back to an old subject.

swinging:

Californian First:

8150. How were you heading? - At that time we would be heading N.E. when I saw that steamer first, but we were swinging all the time because when we stopped the order was given for the helm to be put hard-a-port, and we were swinging, but very, very slowly.(Groves)

7969. You were swinging round? - We were slowly swinging.(Stone)

The Californian was swinging slowly as can be clearly be established by the Evidence.

now to Titanic from Ismay:

18577. Did you see any light? - We saw a light a long way from us, which, I think, was a little bit on our starboard side.

18578. That is a little bit on the starboard side of the "Titanic" or your boat? - Of both.

18579. You were heading the same way? - Yes.

18580. Did you pull towards it? - We did.
18581. But without success? - We thought we gained on her, and then she seemed to draw away from us again.

18582. Then the light disappeared? - In daylight, yes.

18583. I say the light of the vessel disappeared? - Yes, when daylight came.

18584. Not till daylight came? - If you will excuse my saying so, I do not think it was a steamer at all; I think it was a sailing ship we saw.

18585. (The Commissioner.) Am I to understand that you do not think it was the "Californian"? - I am sure it was not.

18586. I am rather sorry to hear that? - This was on the starboard side of the ship. I understand the "Californian" was seen on the port side of the ship - or the ship that was supposed to be the "Californian." This light I saw was on the starboard side.

18587. Never mind about what side it was at all; have you come to the conclusion that the vessel whose lights were seen for so long a time was not the "Californian"? - No, Sir.

18588. I thought you said you had come to that conclusion? - No, I said that the light that we pulled for I do not think was the "Californian's" light.

18589. Then was there more than one light visible? - The only light I saw was the one we rowed for.

18590. Was there any other light visible? - I saw no other light. This was one plain, white light.

18591. (The Attorney-General.) There was very little wind that night? - Very little.

18592. Practically a dead calm, we have been told? - Yes, up to a certain hour in the morning, when the wind did get up.

18593. A sailing vessel would not have been making any way at all, or practically none? - Well, very little.

18594. The "Californian" is of course a vessel under the control of your company, the company of which you are president? - Financially, yes; so far as the management of the company is concerned I have nothing to do with it.

18595. I did not suggest you had, but it is one of those in the Leyland Line, the controlling interest of which is in the American Trust? - Quite.

18596. Did you continue pulling towards it all the time? - Yes, for a very long time.

18597. Did you continue pulling towards it till daylight? - No.

18598. Do you mean you gave it up? - We gave it up because the wind got up; a little sea got up and we were making no progress at all.

and Again:

18937. Now, I want you to tell me about this light that you rowed for. Your impression is that that was not the light of the "Californian"? - That is my impression.

18938. Now, will you just give me your reasons for that? - Because it was a dull white light.

18939. On which side of the "Titanic"? - When we left the ship it would be on the starboard side.

18940. Did the light continue to be visible as you rowed on in its direction? - We rowed on, and we thought the light became more distinct, and then it seemed to draw away from us again.

18941. Did you see anything of the light on the port side of the "Titanic" which has been so much referred to? - I did not.

18942. Anyhow, in your judgment, that is not the same light which has been referred to as on the port side? - I do not think so

Ismay's Evidence in my view indicates that Titanic was swing a bit faster than those who rely on Rowe alone would have us believe
 
Mar 22, 2003
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No matter who is making them, time, distance and direction estimates tend to be unreliable unless there is a frame of reference that is included such as the time taken off a clock or a bearing taken off a compass. Even something seen ahead from the starboard side of the ship can easily be taken as being on the starboard of the ship even if it off to port by a few points. It all depends on the vantage point of the observer and how careful is the observation and their memory of what they saw.

The electric lights of a large ship 10 to 12 miles away could easily appear the same as the lights of a tramp steamer with oil lights just 5 to 6 miles away. Unless you could see more than just the lights, there is no way of telling exactly what you are looking at or how far off it is. Even through glasses, only the lights were visible.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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if what Sam says is true maybe we should assume Rowe the man mainly leaned for the heading North Theory is wrong. thats just sarcasm of course as the ship does seem to be have pointing north at one point or another.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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The direction in which some of the lifeboats rowed away from the ship towards the light on the horizon is also indicative of the Titanic having pointed in a northern direction.

"Ismay's Evidence in my view indicates that Titanic was swing a bit faster than those who rely on Rowe alone would have us believe"

The main difference between Ismay's observation and Rowe's, is that Rowe was helping to fire the rockets and was carefully observing the vessel, while Ismay was not. The observation that the ship was pointing North does not rely on Rowe alone, nor does the statement that she did not turn around much.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Tad

I don't think me and you will ever agree on this subject. The only thing we seem to agree on is that the Californian saw Titanic's Rockets/Socket Signals. on the bright however, if I ever wrote an article that needed reviewing, I might ask you to review it, as it is my belief that your critic is also your best reviewer.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hello Jesse, how are you doing? Good I hope. Haha! I agree that we'll probably never agree on this subject, but there's nothing wrong with that. We're both entitled to our own opinions, and there is nothing wrong with a friendly and spirited debate. This is one of the few times that I've ever seen a thread on this topic not degenerate into unpleasantness.

You wrote:
"The only thing we seem to agree on is that the Californian saw Titanic's Rockets/Socket Signals."

We definitely agree on that, and I believe that we both can agree that it is wrong to try pinning the deaths of those lost during the sinking on Captain Lord. Like Sam, I find his conduct and actions after the fact and the cover-up to be deplorable, but I just don't see any justification for making him a scapegoat, regardless of whether he might have been able to save lives if he or the officers on watch had taken different actions or not.

You wrote:
"If I ever wrote an article that needed reviewing, I might ask you to review it, as it is my belief that your critic is also your best reviewer."

Being completely honest, I would be more than glad to do so. If I ever write an article on this topic and you would be willing to, I might ask you to do the same. A critical eye is a really good thing to have when tackling a complicated or controversial topic.

Hope that you had a nice weekend, and a good start to this week.
Kind regards,
Tad
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>but I just don't see any justification for making him a scapegoat, regardless of whether he might have been able to save lives if he or the officers on watch had taken different actions or not.<<

Nor do I. Any accountability on Captain Lord's part is really a seperate issue and when you get down to it, he wasn't the one who caused the Titanic to have an unpleasant encounter with an iceberg. Smith and Company managed that much on their own without anybody's help. Absent that, the Californian would have been just another ship passing forgotten in the night.
 

Paul Slish

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I think this thread is as good as any to post this question.

I have seen on a few threads on ET the formula used to calculate the distance to the horizon.

It is Nautical Miles = 1.17 * the square root of the height of the observer's eyes in feet.

I have also seen the multiplier as anywhere from 1.13 to 1.17.

I was talking to a physicist recently and he took some formulas based upon kilometers, and the earth's radius as 6378.1 km. We worked on converting the formulas to Nautical miles and height in feet.

It came out to 1.065 * square root of height in feet. This assumes the earth is a sphere (we know it isn't exactly) and no refraction.

Does anyone know where the multiplier of 1.13 to 1.17 comes from? How was it determined?

Thanks
 
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