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Capstan


Capstan is a noun with two meanings:
  1. A machine for moving or lifting heavy weights (especially in a maritime context, i.e. ships) which consists of a vertical drum that can be rotated (either by steam or man power), around which a cable is turned.

  2. A rotating shaft which is used to drive the moment of tape in a tape recorder, and helps assure that the tape moves at constant speed avoiding audio distortions known as flutter.
The American writer, Herman Melville (1819 to 1891) wrote in Chapter 35 of Moby Dick referring to Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, London, England:
Admiral Nelson, also, on a capstan of gun-metal, stands his mast-head in Trafalgar Square; and even when most obscured by that London smoke, token is yet given that a hidden hero is there; for where there is smoke, must be fire.

 
       
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