Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that “the longitude problem” was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day—and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon... show more
Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that “the longitude problem” was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day—and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution.The scientific establishment of Europe—from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton—had mapped the heavens in both hemispheres in its certain pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution—a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land. Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest, and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a new window on our world.
Publish date: November 1st 1995
Publisher: Walker & Company
Pages no: 224
Edition language: English
A short, fascinating book about a topic that you wouldn't think all that interesting - longitude. The book looks at the historical challenge for sailors not being able to figure out what their longitude was while at sea, and the contest for scientists (or clockmakers as it turns out) to come up with...
In the 18th century, plenty of ships were lost at sea due to not knowing their longitude and either going massively off course, or hitting rocks and islands that appeared when sailors had veered off course.The quest to find a means around this led to a large bounty being offered by various heads of ...
A lovely account about timekeeping. I'm easily obsessed with old machines and especially clocks and watches, so, yeah, I like it.
Finding the latitude in the 17th century was straightforward, but finding the longitude was extremely difficult. This compromised the safety of all seafarers, and in one particular incident around 200 lives were lost of the Isles of Scilly.The admiralty of the day decided to set up a Longitude board...
I can't remember if I read the book first or saw the television series first, but some combination of the two was like a long, calm, very safe ocean voyage.