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Lost the bubble

Posted by Mike S on October 30, 2010 at 18:19

What's the origin of the term "I lost the bubble?" Typically meaning I'm confused, I lost track of what we are talking about, or similar. My speculation is that it may be a reference to aviation or nautical navigation. To take a sighting on a star or the sun in celestial navigation, sextants had a liquid filled pressure chamber that the navigator sighted through. Keeping the bubble centered ensured that the sighting was measured against a level data plane. Losing the bubble meant you had no reference to level. Just my speculation.