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Researchers: We may have found a fabled sunstone (Update)
Phys.org ^ | 08 March 2013 | Raphael Satter

Posted on 03/08/2013 11:05:59 AM PST by Red Badger

A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal—a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel—worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.

That's because of a property known as birefringence, which splits light beams in a way that can reveal the direction of their source with a high degree of accuracy. Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn't present a problem.

"You don't have to understand how it works," said Albert Le Floch, of the University in Rennes in western France. "Using it is basically easy." Vikings were expert navigators—using the sun, stars, mountains and even migratory whales to help guide them across the sea—but some have wondered at their ability to travel the long stretches of open water between Greenland, Iceland, and Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.

Le Floch is one of several who've suggested that calcite crystals were used as navigational aids for long summer days in which the sun might be hidden behind the clouds. He said the use of such crystals may have persisted into the 16th century, by which time magnetic compasses were widely used but often malfunctioned. Le Floch noted that one Icelandic legend—the Saga of St. Olaf—appears to refer to such a crystal when it says that Olaf used a "sunstone" to verify the position of the sun on a snowy day. But that's it. Few other medieval references to sunstones have been found, and no such crystals have ever been recovered from Viking tombs or ships. Until the Alderney Crystal was recovered in 2002, there had been little if any hard evidence to back the theory.

Many specialists are still skeptical. Donna Heddle, the director of the Center for Nordic Studies at Scotland's University of the Highlands and Islands, described the solar compass hypothesis as speculative. "There's no solid evidence that that device was used by Norse navigators," she said Friday. "There's never been one found in a Viking boat. One cannot help but feel that if there were such things they would be found in graves." She acknowledged that the crystal came from Iceland and was found near a navigation tool, but said it might just as easily have been used as a magnifying device as a solar compass. Le Floch argued that one of the reasons why no stones have been found before is that calcite degrades quickly—it's vulnerable to acid, sea salts, and to heat.

The Alderney Crystal was originally transparent, but the sea water had turned it a milky white. Le Floch's paper—written with Guy Ropars, Jacques Lucas, and a group of Britons from the Alderney Maritime Trust—appeared Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-03-fabled-sunstone.html#jCp


TOPICS: Canada; Culture/Society; US: Minnesota; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: archeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; ships; sunstone; sunstones; vikings

This photo taken in Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, dated June 2012 and released on Friday March 8, 2013 by scientist Guy Ropars shows the Alderney Crystal, a piece of calcite. Researchers say the rough, whitish crystal recovered from the wreckage of 16th century English warship may be a sunstone, a special kind of mineral believed by some to have helped medieval seafarers navigate the high seas. (AP Photo/Guy Ropars)

1 posted on 03/08/2013 11:05:59 AM PST by Red Badger
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping!...........


2 posted on 03/08/2013 11:06:34 AM PST by Red Badger (Lincoln freed the slaves. Obama just got them ALL back......................)
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To: Red Badger

Release the Kraken!!!


3 posted on 03/08/2013 11:14:51 AM PST by China Clipper ( Animals? Sure I like animals. See? There they are, right next to the potatoes!)
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To: Red Badger

A natural beam splitter?


4 posted on 03/08/2013 11:19:44 AM PST by ZX12R
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To: Red Badger

“Le Floch noted that one Icelandic legend—the Saga of St. Olaf—appears to refer to such a crystal when it says that Olaf used a “sunstone” to verify the position of the sun on a snowy day.”

I hope that all this speculation regarding sunstones isnt due to a single reference in some guy’s journal. If thats the case sunstones have about the same credibility as bigfoot. It would also reinforce my suspicion that archaeologists have far too much time on their hands.


5 posted on 03/08/2013 11:27:23 AM PST by Brooklyn Attitude (Obama being re-elected is the political equivalent of OJ being found not guilty.)
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To: Red Badger

Many stone have birefringence but I was taught Iolite (Cordierite) was use as “sunstones” by Vikings. They were used in pairs as crossed polarloid filters to produce a dark field similar to welding goggles becuase of the the gemstone’s extreme pleochroism, not birefringence.


6 posted on 03/08/2013 11:30:21 AM PST by DocRock (All they that TAKE the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 Gun grabbers beware.)
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To: Red Badger
Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn't present a problem.

I read a sci-fi story once with a female archaeologist digging up an old Viking boat with it's crew and the men came to life. After a few days of driving the men around and having them stay at her apartment and humorous interactions and experiences, she asked why they weren't more dazzled at the baffling technology that they were seeing for the first time, one of the Vikings simply stated that, "it was no matter, we had magic in our time also".

7 posted on 03/08/2013 11:37:30 AM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: Red Badger

Came looking for nearly free and limitless energy. This thread is a Total Heinlein Fail....


8 posted on 03/08/2013 11:38:36 AM PST by Eepsy
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To: Eepsy

Can the suns position in the sky not be estimated by the time of day? Therefore an hour glass could track the Sun from daylight to dark? As long as East and West can be defined?


9 posted on 03/08/2013 11:52:24 AM PST by Conserev1 ("Still Clinging to my Bible and my Weapon")
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To: Brooklyn Attitude
archaeologists have far too much time on their hands

Who pays for archeologists? Why you do. Most of them are supported by taxes in one form or another. The reason they have too much time on their hands is that they don't have to produce a competitive product to get paid. Sunstone BS doesn't have to be marketable to get the originator paid.

10 posted on 03/08/2013 11:53:03 AM PST by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: ZX12R
A natural beam splitter?

Yes. It's sometimes called "Iceland Spar". Tourist traps and novelty shops of the sort that sell or used to sell various mineral samples commonly sell small pieces of it.

It splits refracts vertically and horizontally polarized light differently, producing a split image. A good sample will be quite clear. Centuries of immersion in seawater would not be good for it.

11 posted on 03/08/2013 11:56:27 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Conserev1
As long as East and West can be defined?

Ahhh ... that's the big problem, isn't it? Defining longitude is not easy. The development of precise, portable chronometers was driven by the need for such devices to determine longitude.

12 posted on 03/08/2013 11:58:55 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Red Badger

13 posted on 03/08/2013 12:02:24 PM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: from occupied ga

“The reason they have too much time on their hands is that they don’t have to produce a competitive product to get paid.”

That’s not entirely true. They are supported by grants which are competitively awarded against the proposals of others. My problem with archaeologists is that almost all the time the results of their studies are useless. Did a certain dinosaur have feathers, did the vikings use a sunstone? What sort of wood did some extinct indian tribe use to make a spear? Who gives a Cr@p except that it satisfys someones idle curiosity. It has no practical value, and most of the time the conclusions are based on guesswork and speculation.


14 posted on 03/08/2013 12:05:56 PM PST by Brooklyn Attitude (Obama being re-elected is the political equivalent of OJ being found not guilty.)
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To: Brooklyn Attitude
If we confined ourselves solely to pursuits that had calculable practical value, life would be very unpleasant.
15 posted on 03/08/2013 12:13:29 PM PST by wideawake
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To: Red Badger; Clive; exg; Alberta's Child; albertabound; AntiKev; backhoe; Byron_the_Aussie; ...
To all- please ping me to Canadian topics.

Canada Ping!

16 posted on 03/08/2013 12:18:32 PM PST by Squawk 8888 (True North- Strong Leader, Strong Dollar, Strong and Free!)
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To: wideawake

“If we confined ourselves solely to pursuits that had calculable practical value, life would be very unpleasant.”

Agreed. I do lots of things that have no practical value, but I use my own money.


17 posted on 03/08/2013 12:41:53 PM PST by Brooklyn Attitude (Obama being re-elected is the political equivalent of OJ being found not guilty.)
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To: Brooklyn Attitude
It would also reinforce my suspicion that archaeologists have far too much time on their hands.

And they have dirty minds, too...

18 posted on 03/08/2013 12:42:28 PM PST by BlueDragon (If you want vision open your eyes and see you can carry the light with you wherever you go)
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To: Brooklyn Attitude

“Brooklyn Attitude” = “Never need fear sunburn on scalp.”


19 posted on 03/08/2013 12:44:41 PM PST by TXnMA (REMEMBER the Alamo! REMEMBER Goliad! REPEAT San Jacinto!!!)
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To: JoeProBono

That’s the kind of guy arrows were made for.


20 posted on 03/08/2013 1:05:15 PM PST by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
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To: Red Badger

“a sunstone, the fabled crystal ....”

The ambiguous meaning (in this context) of “fabled” seems to imply that there is some doubt about the existence of sunstones. The statement is partially accurate, if “fabled” is taken to mean “made famous in fables”. It is completely wrong, if it is supposed to mean “exists only in fables”.

Sunstones do exist — that’s an indisputable fact. There are also accounts of their use by Viking navigators. Now, it seems that these accounts are likely “historical”, and not merely “fables”. The statement should be changed to: “a sunstone, the crystal made famous in historical accounts of Viking navigation”.


21 posted on 03/08/2013 1:05:26 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: ArrogantBustard
Defining longitude is not easy.

Have you read the book Longitude? I really enjoyed it.

22 posted on 03/08/2013 1:21:31 PM PST by stayathomemom (Beware of kittens modifying your posts.)
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To: JoeProBono

Ragnar Lothbrok!


23 posted on 03/08/2013 1:42:21 PM PST by dainbramaged (Joe McCarthy was right.)
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To: ansel12

Been reading the Tom Holt, have ye?


24 posted on 03/08/2013 1:45:09 PM PST by Kommodor (Terrorist, Journalist or Democrat? I can't tell the difference.)
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To: dainbramaged
Ragnar Lothbrok : FATHER OF VIKINGS MULLET


25 posted on 03/08/2013 1:55:54 PM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Kommodor

I googled him and you are right, the book is “Who’s Afraid of Beowulf?”

It was a fun read and I recommend it to people.


26 posted on 03/08/2013 1:56:38 PM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: Squawk 8888
That's Labradorite feldspar, not calcite. Labradorite was named after Labrador, where it was first identified, but it occurs worldwide. Fine gem-grade material also comes from Finland, India and Madagascar. It also occurs in transparent yellow hues.

"Sunstone" is a popular current misnomer for other varieties of feldspar, particularly material from India with bright spangles of mica, and for beautiful copper-infused material of many hues from Oregon, USA. Another gem-grade spangled variety occurs in Tanzania.

As used in Viking lore, the word "Sunstone" referred to some kind of stone (believed by some to be the mineral Iolite) that was used to find the sun on cloudy or foggy days. That name has nothing to do with current usage.

Calcite ("Iceland Spar")is an entirely separate mineral. It is also doubly-refractive and splits light into two beams traveling at different angles through it. One of my friends has created this information about it the fabled Viking "Sunstone": The Viking Compass

27 posted on 03/08/2013 1:57:13 PM PST by Bernard Marx
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To: stayathomemom

Yes, I have. Good book.


28 posted on 03/08/2013 2:00:33 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Conserev1
Conserev1 wrote:
Can the suns position in the sky not be estimated by the time of day? Therefore an hour glass could track the Sun from daylight to dark? As long as East and West can be defined?
Of course. That is what makes navigation by the stars and sun possible. The whole point of the sunstone is to compare the observed elevation of the sun to what it ought to be at any given observation.

The sun's elevation at (for example, high noon) is known for every latitude for every day of the year and that data can be set out in tables to be published for the use of navigators.

Then the navigator can observe the elevation of the sun at its zenith and consult the table to see his latitude.

Longitude is a tougher proposition. For that, you need to have a highly accurate clock (a navigator's marine chronometer) and a much more complex set of tables to set out elevations for the major stars in your hemisphere, again in relation to the time of day and the day of the year.

The clock would be set for an exact time at a known reference point on the earth (for example at Greenwich Observatory) and the clock must maintain its accuracy throughout the voyage.

The accuracy of the position fix will depend on the accuracy of the clock and the accuracy of the sextant that is used to obtain several stars elevations and the skill of the navigator to take accurate measurements.

Observing three stars wull produce curves lines on a chart of the surface of the globe together they make a "cocked hat" within which is the navigator's calculated position.

The greater the accuracy of the clock and the sextant and the accuracy of the navigator's obseravation, the smaller is the cocked hat.

Latitude was not a major problem for the Vikings. Longitude was a problem.

Caveat: I am grossly over-simplifying here

29 posted on 03/08/2013 2:58:26 PM PST by Clive
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To: Clive

I guess the main observation for me was From Norway you sail west till you see land and visa versa, or north and south! They weren’t looking for a needle in a haystack! Just land fall! IDK!


30 posted on 03/08/2013 3:24:51 PM PST by Conserev1 ("Still Clinging to my Bible and my Weapon")
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To: Fred Nerks

Sun Stone Ping


31 posted on 03/08/2013 3:27:31 PM PST by Candor7 (Obama fascism article:(http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html))
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To: Candor7

I hope theirs were more useful that ours.

32 posted on 03/08/2013 3:35:19 PM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: Candor7

You might like this:

http://www.spirasolaris.ca/1aintro.html


33 posted on 03/08/2013 3:37:41 PM PST by Fred Nerks (FAIR DINKUM!)
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To: Red Badger; nickcarraway; Renfield

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Red Badger.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


34 posted on 03/08/2013 4:14:16 PM PST by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
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To: Squawk 8888; SunkenCiv

That is a very pretty rock.

I didn’t expect that!


35 posted on 03/08/2013 4:24:51 PM PST by fanfan ("If Muslim kids were asked to go to church on Sunday and take Holy Communion there would be war.")
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To: ansel12

haha that’s a great line


36 posted on 03/08/2013 4:27:04 PM PST by visualops (artlife.us)
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To: Fred Nerks

Interesting reading in fact. I have coursed the Northern Meadows of Newfoundland, and they are a lot more hospitable than Greenland or Iceland.

But the last 20 years of solar driven warming shows us that the medieval warming period may have put the Vikings into contact with native Canadians a long time ago.There are also oral tradition legends about blond haired , blue eyed native Canadians.


37 posted on 03/08/2013 4:29:32 PM PST by Candor7 (Obama fascism article:(http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/barack_obama_the_quintessentia_1.html))
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To: Bernard Marx

great link, thanks.


38 posted on 03/08/2013 4:36:54 PM PST by visualops (artlife.us)
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To: Candor7
There are also oral tradition legends about blond haired , blue eyed native Canadians.

There is also the historical record...

When Lewis & Clark wintered in North Dakota, they were hosted by blond haired, blue-eyed Mandan "indians".

I suspect this particular remnant would be associated with Minnesota's Kensington Runestone, but they likely would've originated in Greenland or Newfoundland.

39 posted on 03/08/2013 4:53:45 PM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Brooklyn Attitude

Probably from Snorre Sturlasson. He was very accurate.


40 posted on 03/08/2013 4:57:54 PM PST by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: Candor7
I might add that I myself have viewed some of the "historical record".

Some years ago, I visited the Three Rivers Petroglyphs in New Mexico -- between Carrizozo and Tularosa, at the foot of the Sacramento Mtns overlooking the Tularosa Basin.

Three Rivers

The site is a jumble of igneous rocks and boulders, generally about 3-5 ft high. The petroglyphs themselves are in profusion, but faded and somewhat indistinct -- to see them well, you really have to let your eyes adjust.

At one point, I sat down to rest in the shade of one boulder and looked at the boulders opposite that were highlighted by direct sun.

Suddenly, the faint forms fell into sharp focus. And one of the glyphs that stood out was a Viking ship in profile -- the high prow and stern, the square sail, the row of round shields along the gunwales.

The Three Rivers petroglyphs reportedly date to 1000-1400 AD. How did such an accurate depicition of a Viking ship appear in Southern New Mexico during this period if someone hadn't actually seen one?

41 posted on 03/08/2013 5:22:45 PM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: okie01; Candor7
excerpt: Remaining in the Pacific Northwest, the question naturally arises as to whether representations of the "Sisuitl" might exist among the many petroglyphs in the region. Bearing in mind two things - firstly, the crocodilian snout plus the large eyes, and secondly, that an exact match with a Viking figurehead would be extremely difficult to emulate - its nevertheless seems that some examples of "Sea-Monster" petroglyphs do exist in this context, such as those found at Sproat Lake near Barkley Sound and Nanaimo. Oddly enough, in casting about for a suitable match, one of the most complex figureheads found was that used on the "Sigrid Storrada replica Viking Ship (lower right inset, Figure 7-1b below; Defunct link: http://www.sigrid-storrada.com/ ). This figurehead along with that of another working replica, the Danish Vikingship Helge Ask (lower left insert) are compared below with "Sea-monster" petroglyphs at Nanaimo on the east central coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia:

SPIROSOLARIS LINK

42 posted on 03/08/2013 5:33:59 PM PST by Fred Nerks (FAIR DINKUM!)
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To: Fred Nerks
Fascinating, Fred.

Did the "long ships" actually make it to Vancouver Island...???

Or did an adventurous Viking somehow make his way from Lake Winnipeg to the Pacific coast...???

43 posted on 03/09/2013 10:01:01 AM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: okie01

http://www.spirasolaris.ca/sbb4g1bv3.html

It’s been a while since I first read all of this website, maybe the answer is there in part. There’s a fascinating section on Easter Island also, it shows structures that are remeniscent of structures on the island of St Kilda, in the Atlantic, off the New Hebredes. I’m inclined to think the Vikings (I think of them as Norwegan sailors) owned the oceans in the Northern hemisphere.


44 posted on 03/09/2013 2:49:32 PM PST by Fred Nerks (FAIR DINKUM!)
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To: okie01
Sorry, I meant the OUTER Hebredes

It's on the island of St Kilda, not shown on the map, that one finds undated structures such as this, named cleits, supposedly constructed for storage of goodness knows what:

Which appear in similar appearance to structures found on Easter Island, described as chicken coops!

45 posted on 03/09/2013 4:42:08 PM PST by Fred Nerks (FAIR DINKUM!)
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To: okie01
EASTER ISLAND STONE STRUCTURES.

Note the large man-made WHARF!

46 posted on 03/09/2013 4:45:56 PM PST by Fred Nerks (FAIR DINKUM!)
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