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How GPS Is Killing Lighthouses 509

Posted by timothy
from the like-lightbulbs-killed-candles dept.
sakshale writes "Spiegel Online has an article about the impact of GPS systems on Lighthouses. They claim that the popularity of the satellite-based global positioning system has led to the closure of lighthouses along the German coast." As the article says, "critics question whether the new system is reliable and safe enough to warrant the closure of these historical beacons of safety."
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How GPS Is Killing Lighthouses

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  • by hjtamvla9Xbp (818725) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:22PM (#11613889)
    How e-mail is killing the sales of postage stamps.
  • Run by US Gov't? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:24PM (#11613908)
    Isn't GPS run by the United States government? Are other countries sure it's a good idea to be relying on that?
    • Maybe they'll get less opposition to closing light houses if they forced german ships to use the new EU galileo system instead of GPS.

      On the other hand, if this happens, perhaps the lighthouse preservation lobby will force the EU government to cancel Galileo to save historic lighthouses. Stranger things have happened in Europe...
    • Galileo (Score:5, Informative)

      by pjay_dml (710053) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:37PM (#11614043) Journal
      ... is what Europe came up with [slashdot.org], as an answer to your question.

      http://www.esa.int/export/esaNA/galileo.html
      http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/energy_transport/gal ileo/index_en.htm

      China seems to agree [space.com]

      ...but the yanks [64.233.187.104] are not happy [bbc.co.uk]....
      • Re:Galileo (Score:5, Informative)

        by kesuki (321456) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @10:49PM (#11614667) Journal
        ahh so europe decide to launch their own gps satelite system, so that ships won't crash into the coast during a war. The US GPS system has a way of distorting data so that only US mil approved GPS devices will work, commercial GPS sytems will simply give innacurate readings, if they work at all. Frankly it makes sense to not want to be crippled in the event of a war, because Uncle sam says to take it backdoor and live ina stonage pre-GPS world because it's a WAR and the enemy could be using commercial GPS hardware. sounds like a hardware hacking project to me ;) hacking a commercial GPS device to work with military 'distorted' signals.. what with the war in iraq, there is at least one part of the world where they've got GPS set to obfuscated mode ;)
  • Old news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IBeatUpNerds (827376) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:25PM (#11613909)
    Lighthouses have been obsolete since radar came to be. GPS is hardly the starting point for this. At any rate, I'm a fan of lighthouse preservation efforts as I think they're a very interesting part of our evolution of navagational technology, and, in some cases, quite beautiful. Lighthouses have been pretty well obsolete for 40 years.
    • Re:Old news (Score:5, Informative)

      by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:29PM (#11613963) Homepage
      Radar is common on big boats, but for small personal boats, it would be quite expensive. GPS, on the other hand, is so cheap that almost everybody can afford it.
      • Think navigation buoys.
    • Re:Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Eryq (313869) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:30PM (#11613971) Homepage
      I wonder if we can combine the old and new worlds... e.g., turn all the obsolete lighthouses into cell towers...
    • Re:Old news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SimonInOz (579741) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:33PM (#11614003)
      You've never sailed a small boat, have you? Lighthouses are wonderful. There is nothing so bad as your vessel being beaten against a rocky shore ... except, perhaps, not being sure what continent that rocky shore belongs to ...
    • Re:Old news (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172)
      And just how well does that shoal show up on radar anyway?

      KFG
    • Not every boat has radar or GPS. Every boat needs to know where the rocks are.
      • If you're boating at night with out a GPS, and not an expert navagationalist, you're an idiot.
      • GPS is like $200... if you can't afford it, you've really got no place out boating (in your own boat) in anything bigger than a tinny, or anything other than clear, daytime weather.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:43PM (#11614094) Journal
      Lighthouses have been obsolete since radar came to be. GPS is hardly the starting point for this.

      As a boater I can tell you that neither radar nor GPS makes lighthouses obsolete. Nor did LORAN before them.

      Sure, if you've got it and its working you can tell where you are. Within a football field if selective-availability is on, much better if it's off.

      And the big commercial ships have them and they're usually working.

      And the small commercial ships in well-to-do countries (like fishing boats for instance) may have them and they may be working.

      And the more well-to-do pleasure-boaters may have them and they may be working.

      But there are a LOT of boats out there that DON'T have them. The BULK of them, if you're talking numbers.

      Fishermen may not have them - and may have other things to deal with than watching a screen. Most pleasure boats are small fry, not millionaires' giant toys. (A small ocean-capable cruising sailboat, for instance, may be considerably less expensive than an RV of a similar size.)

      Even if they have them, any bets whether they're working when you're coming in after a month at sea, two years after they were purchased? Salt spray is HELL on electronics, and gets into everything.

      And even when they do have them, and they are operating, a boater may think he's far out to sea when he's actually almost onto a hidden hazard, and not be looking. (A lighted nav marker, among other things, is the idiot-light of boating.)

      Saying GPS obsoletes lighthouses is like saying GPS-based navigation systems for cars obsolete stop signs, curve signs, and the blinking lights associated with them.
      • by MoonChildCY (581211) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @10:49PM (#11614664) Homepage
        I am not sure about this, but the lighthouse could be very useful in a GPS system.

        Out-of-the-box GPS has horrible accuracy for travelling into dangerous waters. But if there is a differential GPS correction set up on the lighthouse, then the accuracy will drop down to centimeters (cm). And a lighthouse would be the perfect place to set this up. Clear view of the sky, no buildings obstructing it, on the edge of land (as close as you can get on a boat) and already located in areas that need great accuracy.

        Obsolete in the older sense of beaming visible light, quite useful in beaming corrections to a GPS unit (if equiped to receive them).
    • The prudent mariner (Score:4, Informative)

      by rwebb (732790) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:50PM (#11614172)
      The prudent mariner will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation.
      Natianiel Bowditch (as best as I can recall the quote)

      Among many other reasons for retaining fixed aids to navigation, the GPS system uses the WGS-84 datum. Many charts, in particular many harbor charts, still use local datam references.

      Check with the former Commanding Officer and Navigator of the USS LaMoure County [navsource.org] for their opinion regarding over-reliance on GPS positions with respect to local chart datums.

      Visual and radar piloting have the benefit of being independent of the local coordinate system. Visual aids to navigation, in particular, may seem to be "obsolete" but they are wonderfully helpful in real world piloting situations.

      Been there, done that, didn't get relieved for cause.
    • Funny how peole love anything that is old.

      I bet ya, in your "preservation efforts", you will meet many people, that get just as upset, about windturbin installations, with the argument "of ruining the landscape with phalluses".

      Though I agree, there is something romantic about a lighting house, wouldn't mind living in one. Imagine the views....
    • Single point of failure, especially on a boat is not everyone's cup of tea...
      If you know the shoreline by heart and can navigate eyes closed, fine, but for the rest of the people, landmarks, lighthouses included, can be a lifesaver.
    • Lighthouses have been obsolete since radar came to be.

      Radar isn't infallible. Rain and fog banks can show up on radar. More so at night when the pilot house has its lights off and the radar hood off. Worse yet... mistake land for a fog bank.

      Depth finders are not infallible. A ship can't stop on a dime.

      Neither are GPS nor Loran [wikipedia.org]. They are damn good tools but once you reach coast you're going to navigate by site and not instruments.

      A big ass spinning light where ships tend to crash is a brillent sa
    • Re:Old news (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hachete (473378) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @06:19AM (#11616612) Homepage Journal
      I grant you that radar and GPS have de-emphasised certain parts of navigation and booted out sextants and other radio-based systems like RDF, Loran altogether. Sextant sightings are now treated as an emergency measure, visual sightings by compass are still very useful. Lighthouses play an important role in the navigation environment.

      Radar - good for night navigation and bad weather - only gives you a partial picture and sometimes a less than accurate one - the plan - and sometimes that can be misleading. Nothing better than a lighthouse to truly *fix* your position because it encodes it's identity into light. By the same token, that's why ships still have navigation lights.

      A 3-point fix using compass bearings off of lighthouses and buoys is still the best way to fix your positions. Radar bearings are nowhere near as accurate, and far more prone to the "cocked-hat" problem. The same with Loran.

      At anchor, taking compass bearings off of well-known points is still the best way to see if you're dragging anchor.
  • by Art Pollard (632734) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:26PM (#11613926)
    One thing that must be kept in mind when dealing with GPS systems is that they were developed by the United States military. They are of course, a significant part of the reason why the U.S. can bomb a bunker in Baghdad without having to carpet bomb the entire area (and all the civilians).

    As such, the U.S. military can turn off the satelites or scramble their signal whenever it deems appropriate. So, before our friends the Germans decide to become overly dependant on U.S. technology, they ought to ensure that the world is a stable place otherwise they may find themselves hung out to dry on the reef.

    • I can't find any info on the current status of it, but europe has been planning on deploying their own gps system to escape US control.

      This article [wired.com], dated 17 Jan 2002, says that the system is off. This one [agilent.com], dated 30 june 2002. says its on, ready to be deployed in 2005.

    • The EU is currently making their own positioning satellite system that I believe is going up in the next few years.
    • That's a non starter. If the Military turns off GPS, they're in the dark too. I can see spot based scrambling, but I cannot see flat turning it off world wide. It's grown too big for that.
      • "They're in the dark too" is not true at all. There's two different signals, one of which anyone can use and the other of which only the military can use. They can turn the public signal off and leave the military-only signal on. Also, they can turn off the public signal in a specific area without having to turn it off worldwide. For example, I'm pretty sure they did this in and around Iraq when they first invaded.
      • If the Military turns off GPS, they're in the dark too.

        I wouldn't be at all suprised if they had the ability to turn it off for the non-Military, yet leave it on for the Military.
      • There are two main services PPS ( precision positioning system) and SPS ( standard positioning system).
        The military can turn off SPS, or cause it to deviate to the point that its not very accurate as they did before selective avalibility was turned off in 2002.
        • Well, what I think they've done in the past is "make it deviate to the point that it's not very accurate", but "not very accurate" is relative.

          The "low accuracy" version of GPS is good enough for ship navigation in almost all instances. If your navigation requires accuracy within 3 meters to keep you off the rocks, you're going to have problems even with GPS running in high-accuracy mode. One big wave and you're aground...
          • The 3 meters is the low version currently, it used to be 100 meters until ~2002. Some ships will use DGPS, as do land surveyers, but this equipment is a little on the high side, a little higher than joe blow wants to spend when his Etrex is only ~$100.
  • Why take them out? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chrispyman (710460) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:27PM (#11613932)
    Although the lighthouses really aren't needed, do they really cost so much for upkeep to where it's not cost effective to keep the system running as a backup? I would imagine that it would be very nice to still have lighthouses should a ship suddenly find its GPS no longer working.
  • by aquarian (134728) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:28PM (#11613945)
    ...as tourist attractions. In fact the actual light and other equipment has been automated for years. Many navigational beacons are solar powered, and almost maintenance free.
  • by serano (544693) *
    Lighthouses are like the RIAA. The conditions that allowed them to flourish have changed, leaving them superfluous. At least in one way, lighthouses have an advantage over the RIAA; they are charming and endearing to many people, and they provide nostaligic pleasure. No one will miss the RIAA.
    • by barc0001 (173002) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @10:14PM (#11614367)
      Everyone here seems to get it wrong. We went through the same thing over the last few years on the west coast of Canada over closing up lighthouses, replacing them with automatic beacons. A lot of them are starting to be opened again and staffed by humans. Why?

      Everyone thinks a lighthouse just sits there and looks bright in the darkness. The ones on the west coast here:

      - radio in weather reports from their stations
      - test the water for pollution and temperature
      - test salinity of the water at high and low tides
      - send in visibility reports
      - assist passing boaters with information via radio.
      - assist boaters who know where they are already (thanks to those GPSs) but also know they're in trouble.

      Last week I saw a thing on TV on the daily schedule of a lighthouse up in northwest BC. Did you know the lighthouse keepers' day starts at 3AM with the first readings and goes until 10 PM? Which is usually why it's either a family or at least 2 people staffing them.

      GPS units can help you avoid troubles just fine, but if you're already in a situation, it can't do more than tell you where you are. A lighthouse can coordinate assistance efforts on your behalf, and if you're close enough, may be able to either guide you in, or come get you in their launch.
  • by dswensen (252552) * on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:28PM (#11613951) Homepage
    Lighthouse makers just need to move to a new "all-lawsuit" model of revenue like the music and movie industry has. GPS is denying lighthouse makers their constitutionally protected right to obscene amounts of profit. If you're using a GPS, you're stealing from lighthouses*. It's as simple as that.

    * or, if you prefer, copyright infringing from lighthouses.
  • ObSimpsons (Score:3, Funny)

    by sharkey (16670) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:29PM (#11613955)
    "Is that dad?"
    "Either that, or Batman's really let himself go!"
  • They have been de-activating lighthouses in the united states for decades now. From way before GPS. A prior post mentioned radar and there are other advanced technologies being used (GPS is more accurate).

    The ones that aren't deactivated are mostly automated.

    There are some fairly serious lighthouse preservations groups here.

  • by DaveRobb (139653)
    I get the feeling from reading this article that this while this quote:

    Though the 15 lighthouses on the North Sea cost German taxpayers about 400,000 a year to operate, money alone should not be a reason for shutting them down.

    says money isn't the only reason, the shipping companies and possibly governments have no reason other than money to want to see them gone.

    And for what? 400k euro/year? Granted, that's only for 15 lighthouses, but that's peanuts compared to what is spent on other things.

    I wonde

  • Question FTA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riptide_dot (759229) * on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:31PM (#11613983)
    FTA: "For one thing, GPS can never be 100 percent reliable -- extreme weather conditions like hail or snowfall or even solar winds are known to disrupt service."

    I'm just wondering - couldn't those same factors affect a captain's visibility to a lighthouse?

    I don't think that all lighthouses are in immediate danger of closure. This from the The National Lighthouse museum: [lighthousemuseum.org]

    "With all of the advances made in electronic navigation over the last half century, the use of lighthouses as aids to navigation has certainly waned. The Global Positioning System (GPS), in particular, has transformed the art of navigation to electronic methods. Lighthouses are still used by ships as a back up to their satellite navigation aids, however, and they are used by small boats that aren't equipped with the necessary navigational electronics. Some lighthouses, which are used as range lights are still as important today as they ever were."

    The Staten Island Lighthouse, for example, is the rear range light for the Ambrose Channel Range, the primary deep-draft channel into New York Harbor, and remains of vital importance to New York marine traffic."


    Here's an ironic twist too: Using a GPS to find a lighthouse. [us-lighthouses.com]

    And: The GPS coordinates of many lighthouses. [164.214.12.145]
    • When was the last time you couldn't see far because a sun flare exploded and doused our satellites with radiation? It happens...
    • I'm just wondering - couldn't those same factors affect a captain's visibility to a lighthouse?

      While the weather you mention can affect the captains ability to see a lighthouse, the lighthouse has a powerful enough beam to cut through most weather. If a captain can't see a light house beam, it is some very bad weather and the captain is effectively sailing blind. Any captain stupid enough to get near land in a case like that is going to get their license revoked.
  • I hate hearing stories about how a new technology is killing an old industry. Well no shit, that's the purpose of them! How many people feared computers would destroy a billion different industries? Well, they did! And they created a trillion new ones. This is the point of technology. To destroy old ways of doing things by creating more effeciant, reliable and cost effective technolgies to replace them.

    Unfourtunatly we have numerous companies that fear technolgy as well (auto, oil spring to mind) as
  • by krunk4ever (856261) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:35PM (#11614026) Homepage
    the moment satellites or the gps system fails, we'll get something like: Believe it or not...this is the transcript of an actual radio conversation between a US naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. The Radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on Oct. 10, 1995. US Ship: Please divert your course 0.5 degrees to the south to avoid a collision. CND reply: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision. US Ship: This is the Captain of a US Navy Ship. I say again, divert your course. CND reply: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course! US Ship: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS CORAL SEA*, WE ARE A LARGE WARSHIP OF THE US NAVY. DIVERT YOUR COURSE NOW!! CND reply: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
    • Lighthouses have a number of uses. Manned lighthouses provide local emergency services. If your boat sinks, a lighthouse will indicate the general direction of the shore (very useful when your GPS is 50 feet underwater). Also, of course, useful when your GPS has died all of a sudden.

      This reminds me of the parable:

      Acolyte: Father, what is the difference between knowledge and faith?

      Priest: Knowledge is like the Sun. Faith is like a candle.
      Acolyte: But I thought that faith was more important than knowledge. How can that be, the Sun is far brighter than any candle!
      Priest: Come back and ask me again at midnight.
    • It is an urban legend, but still funny. The Navy even denies this event.

      Snopes [snopes.com]
  • WTF = Where TF?! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by steve_vmwx (824627) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:36PM (#11614030) Homepage Journal
    Ocean Navigator carried an article a few years ago about how the number of people "lost at sea" reported by the US Coast Guard had *increased* since GPS was invented!

    The typical response to was "the batteries went flat...". Hmmmm. Point taken re postage stamps and email but this is a lives-at-stake situation.

    BTW, this is also why the US Navy still teaches celestial navigation and morse code.

    Stevo
  • by Angry Black Man (533969) <vverysmartman@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:36PM (#11614035) Homepage
    It is official; Netcraft confirms: Lighthouses are dying

    One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered lighthouse community when IDC confirmed that the lighthouse market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all navigational assistance tools. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that lighthouses have lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Lighthouses are collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Ship Admin comprehensive navigational test.

    You don't need to be a Kreskin [amdest.com] to predict the future of lighthouses. The hand writing is on the wall: lighthouses faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for lighthouses because lighthouses are dying. Things are looking very bad for lighthouses. As many of us are already aware, lighthouses continue to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. A river with no lighthosue.

    FreeLighthouse is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time lighthouse developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: lighthouses are dying.

    Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

    Openlighthouse leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of Openlighthouse. How many users of Netlighthouse are there? Let's see. The number of Openlighthouse versus Netlighthouse posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 Netlighthouse users. lighthouse/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of Netlighthouse posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of lighthouse/OS. A recent article put Freelighthouse at about 80 percent of the *lighthouse market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 Freelighthouse users. This is consistent with the number of Freelighthouse Usenet posts.

    Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, Freelighthouse went out of business and was taken over by lighthouseI who sell another troubled OS. Now lighthouseI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

    All major surveys show that *lighthouse has steadily declined in market share. lighthouses are very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If lighthouses are to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *lighthouse continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, lighthouses are dead.

    Fact: Lighthouses are dying
  • critics question whether the new system is reliable and safe enough to warrant the closure of these historical beacons of
    safety.


    I thought light houses usualy signaled hazards such as rocks, currents, and most inportantly, land.
  • And for the people who want to do it, we'll put them in cars, outfitted with the latest in radar-avoidance technology, and GPS. We'll then put that car on the autobahn at 100 mph (or, since this is Germany, its equivalent in kph), and take out the steering wheel, accelerator, and brake pedal. These will be obsolete and just add to the cost of manufacturing the car, and since the reliable new digital...

    Oh? What's that? That's a bad idea, because...sometimes electronic systems fail? Well, none of us users o

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Which is why the Navy still teachs you how to navigate using an astrolabe or the constellations.

      What's that? They don't?

      I guess if an EMP frotzes the electronics on their aircraft carrier, they'll have bigger things to worry about. Like what'll happen to the nuclear reactor with all the control systems fried. That's assuming they were far enough away from the blast to survive the nastiness that you usually get from one of those. I doubt a modern ship could operate under those conditions anyway.

      Anythin

  • by snStarter (212765) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @09:41PM (#11614082)
    The pirates who build false lighthouses to lure ships onto a lea shore!

    Piracy is never far away!
  • Once, according to my GPS I was doing 500km/h somewhere in the northern hemisphere. I was actually sitting on the top of a big hill. Resetting the GPS unit didn't change anything. I checked with a friend (we were hiking) and his GPS was doing the same thing. Maybe we were recording a de-orbit of one of the satelites.
  • This is an issue dear to my heart. As an avid lighthouse photographer (http://www.pbase.com/ldkronos/lighthouses [pbase.com])
    I really hate to see these things being abandoned. I think their different styles and architectures are quite interesting. However, some of them are beginning to disappear. Non profit organizations have formed to try to preserve and restore the bigger and more popular ones, but then there are those that have just been left for their own, several of which have collapsed or been torn down and repla
  • A while back, a plan was exposed regarding how the DOD or DHS would shut down the GPS network of satellites. I don't recall where the artical was (I believe it was in Slashdot) or when it appeared (I'm guessing within the last 6-12 months).

    Anyway, my question is this: How do they propose to maintain shipping safety, by dropping the sole navigational fallback in the event that such an event takes place?

    Also, don't lighthouses occasionally perform the duty of keeping watch for any suspicious activities, suc
  • One word:

    Fallback.
  • by Jrod5000 at RPI (229934) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @10:08PM (#11614319)
    you kill a lighthouse!

    Please, think of the historical beacons of safety.
  • You hardly need to blame GPS for the demise of the lighthouse. More culpable was that great innovation, the harbor buoy. This is a worthless story even for slashdot.

  • ... If you find yourself in a world without calculators, you'd better know how to kill things with a pointy stick.

    Modify to suit. Think about it, it applies lighthouses too.

    If you can navigate with GPS, Radar, sonar, etc. You probably don't belong on the open ocean. Certainly not in anything big enough to be dangerous to the rest of us.

  • Large ships no longer use lighthouses for their navigation. For the most part the lighthouses mark points of land and ships tend to avoid points of land. Navigators on ships use a combination of radar and GPS (often combined into one collision avoidance device) to stay within traffic "lanes" that are often only shown on charts (no buoys or anything).

    While working on drill ships, tankers, fishing trawlers and other large vessels I can only remember using a lighthouse one time; to calibrate the compass on a
  • Redundancy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rnturn (11092) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @10:46PM (#11614641)

    I once worked with a bunch of pilots when GPS was still in its infancy. I never heard any of them, nor have I heard of any to this day, ever say they were interested in, say, getting rid of their VOR receiver once they ever put a GPS receiver in their plane. Why make mariners navigate without a backup system? I can't imagine that they're in favor of this. Can't imagine the companies that offer insurance are crazy about eliminating the lighthouse system either.

  • by Kaldaien (676190) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @12:38AM (#11615406)
    I gave a lot of thought to this while I was in Cape Cod last Fall...

    They paid a few million dollars to relocate highland lighthouse hundreds of feet because of beach erosion in 1997. Admittedly anyone who sails around highland (Cape Cod) lighthouse is well aware of that spot and GPS does a far better job than that lighthouse... But the historical significance outweighed the price.

    GPS is more accurate and any vessel that uses it for navigation darn well better have a fail-safe. I don't think reliability is going to be too big a concern...

    Light houses will likely stay in operation purely for the atmosphere in the future. The new bulbs are extremely high efficiency and cost of operation is minimal, it's relocating the darn things because of beach erosion that might do them in... At that point it probably becomes a publicly funded situation, with local residents pitching to save their historic landmarks rather than tax dollars.

    I for one would pay to keep them in operation, you really have to experience a night in Cape Cod to understand :)
  • by jamesh (87723) on Wednesday February 09, 2005 @12:53AM (#11615465)
    ... or did anyone else imagine laser beams from GPS satellite's aiming down at lighthouses blowing them to pieces?

    ?

    I guess it was just me.

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