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Inventor, monster hunter

Dollars to doughnuts, Robert H. Rines will be mainly remembered not for holding more than 800 patents, starting a law school or writing music for the stage, but for his dogged pursuit of the Loch Ness monster.

But Rines, who died Nov. 1 at his home in Boston at 87, may have outlived the fabled Scottish creature he pursued for more than a quarter-century. He had come to suspect that the beast died during his hunt, leaving him to search for a skeleton.

Rines died of heart failure, said his wife, Joanne Hayes-Rines.

Rines took the most convincing underwater pictures of what might or might not have been the Loch Ness monster, so convincing that in the mid-1970s scientists from Harvard and the Smithsonian Institution expressed interest. Others were intrigued by his search tactics: He hired a perfumer to concoct a scent to attract the creature and trained dolphins to carry cameras.

In the end, Rines, a lawyer, said that though he had failed to meet the standards of science, he was sure he could persuade a jury of the monster's existence.

"They can just call me crazy, and that's OK by me," he said in an interview with Boston magazine in 2008. "At least I won't go to jail for it, like Galileo."

Rines was far more than a garden-variety monster hunter. He was polymathic.

He developed electronic gear to improve the resolution of radar and sonar images. That gear is used in Patriot missiles, found the wrecks of the Titanic and the Bismarck and helped pave the way for ultrasound imaging. His patented hinge for chopsticks is less noticed but quite clever.

"Few Americans have made such a sweeping contribution to the process and business of inventing as Robert Rines," said a biography prepared by the Lemelson-MIT Program.

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