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Ph.D Lee's Prologue

Sharing Ph.D Lee's Story

Prologue #1 - What is a Sextant?

Start Up, LeeYoung

A few months before establishing my own company, I was having a mentally difficult time. I was struggling to improve my environment that kept getting worse. It was not easy to face such difficulties and improve the situation. As my worries grew, I couldn't sleep easily, and a vicious cycle continued, making everyday life more difficult due to lack of sleep.

One day, worrying that I would be deprived of sleep, I lay in my bed to ask for falling asleep quickly. And I looked at the sky reflected through the window. At that time, I was able to find an exceptionally twinkling star. I thought I wasn't looking at the star, but that it was looking at me. It was a happy thing to be able to look at the sky. I still look at the sky as often as I can, especially nowadays, being able to see planets including Mars and Jupiter with the naked eye is a happy thing.

The problem was that the next day and the next day, the star was looking at me. (If I think about it now, it seems that the twinkling star was Neptune.) So I thought the following. "Being able to look at the same star regularly at the same time means that the movement of the star is regular, so observing the movement of that star would be enough to express its position on Earth?"

After that, my life began to change a lot. For me, the hope of being able to calculate the position of the Earth by observing the stars, rather than an uninteresting effort to overcome difficulties, became the power to sustain each day.

First Product,"Sighter"

At that time I did not know astronomy. My experience in developing a marine navigation system was all of my knowledge. The reason why it is decisively different from astronomy is that it uses GPS. Why am I so obsessed with being able to locate the earth by observing the stars despite the presence of GPS? The reason will be serialized next time if I have a chance.

I conducted the study for about a year. At that time, I knew that there were few related books or materials in Korea. At least there was no one to discuss. I went to the astronomy departments of universities in Korea, but those who discuss the Big Bang and black holes couldn't be interested in finding the coordinates of the Earth using celestial bodies. I can still recall clearly now that it was impossible to understand its contents when I read books called Astronomical Navigation in Korea, which was published before I was born.

Eventually, the equipment called "Sighter" was implemented at twice the cost of the company's capital. (See picture below.) This device is designed to calculate its own position by observing the altitude and orientation of celestial bodies. While this equipment was being manufactured, we prayerfully designed it with the makers, discussed the difficulties in manufacturing, and predicted the results that would come out of operation. It was really exciting days. It was expected that it could be used not only on ships but also on airplanes, and could be used in civil engineering and construction. I remembered the words of the captain I had known. "In fact, even God doesn't know how to calculate the exact position during voyage." Eventually, my company moved to a building with a terrace where astronomical observation was easy.

As time passed, I remember the day when the "Sighter" was completed and delivered to my company. How much was expected and met the equipment! It was a sunny day with no clear clouds. When the "Sighter" arrived, I had selected all the locations I wanted to observe, so I carefully installed the received device and checked whether it could be operated, and operated it on the company's terrace. More precisely, it would be correct to observe the altitude and orientation of the sun.

Ah! It took only 10 minutes for the signal to come out.

Fortunately, I was able to conclude that I could hardly observe the position on Earth with this device in 10 minutes because of my hard work in this field for over a year.I was worried about how to solve realistic difficulties.

This is the result of having focused only on implementing the functions of "Sighter" and leaving the management behind even after establishing the company. The balance in the bankbook was already empty, such as the issue of the wages of colleagues and the expense of running the company. And what kind of items should we run the company with? During a shorter period of time than I was writing paragraph 1 of this article, all of the worries that had been delayed raided me.

Inspiration, "Digital Sextant"

After a few days of staying like that, I suddenly thought of Sextant, which was made more than 100 years ago which was mentioned in the Astronomical Navigation book.

It doesn't seem to have anything to do with Digital. It's an old thing which sailors were holding pipe cigarettes. Above all, it was regarded that it was impossible to connect with automation in the flood of all IT in the 20th century. But, through the "Sighter", it was transformed into the confidence that it could revive as a completely different object.

It was also found that the accuracy that bearings would normally have on the sea was much lower than that of Sextants. In other words, it has been found that the related technologies has not yet been able to use it as an element to calculate the position using bearings on the sea. For reference, although the military ring laser gyro is over 10 billion won(Around 9 million dollars), it does not exceed the accuracy of general analog sextants. Of course, the gyro can be used to measure the orientation of a celestial body, and the sextant is to measure the elevation of a celestial body.

After such thoughts, we started planning the automation of Sextant, which did not require measurement of the orientation, but could calculate the position with more than two observations. And this became the starting line for Digital Sextant.

I have never run the "Sighter" ever since. It was an object that couldn't be operated correctly. But I didn't throw it away. Even now, in my company's lab, the equipment is still standing as if it could work. I don't hate the equipment. Because of the equipment, Digital Sextant was able to be born, and my will was burned, and it was a material that helped overcome the difficult times. During the implementation of the "Sighter", many of the difficulties that may arise in Digital Sextant could be predicted in advance.

That's how I got the Sextant in my heart.

Next post: Why do we need astronomical navigation despite having GPS?