During the great age of exploration, the "longitude problem" was the gravest of scientific challenges. Without the ability to determine longitude, sailors and their ships were lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. In 1714, desperate for a solution, England's Parliament offered 20,000 pounds (the equivalent of millions of dollars today) ...
During the great age of exploration, the "longitude problem" was the gravest of scientific challenges. Without the ability to determine longitude, sailors and their ships were lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. In 1714, desperate for a solution, England's Parliament offered 20,000 pounds (the equivalent of millions of dollars today) to anyone who could solve the problem. With all the skill and storytelling ability of a great novelist, Dava Sobel captures the dramatic story at the heart of this epic scientific quest.
I was just introduced to author Dava Sobel, and this is the first of her books that I have read. She populates a fascinating historical event with believable characters. A wonderful job.
Aug 16, 2007
How it really happened....
This is an account of the development of a navigational tool we've all taken for granted for years. We all assume this capability has been around for centuries. No so, and this author makes the inventor's story a real page-turner. This little gem should be required reading for everyone!!!
Apr 20, 2007
An untold story of intrigue.
A quick scan of the cover does not begin to describe the contents of this little gem. On the surface, it appears to be just an another historical trek down science lane but once you begin reading Sobel's tale you realize she is spinning a very real story of intrigue. Just discovering the background of John Harrison alone makes you marvel at how he could had solved such a complex problem. Then add in the fact that the most learned astronomical thinkers of the time were in competition with him is where the intrigue of this tale begins. Sobel keeps the technical aspects of this story simple to read and understand and concentrates on the historical facts and the struggle Harrison waged to prove himself.
Publishers Weekly, 1995-09-18 While sailors can readily gauge latitude by the height of the sun or guiding stars above the horizon, the measurement of longitude bedeviled navigators for centuries, resulting in untold shipwrecks. Galileo, Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley entreated the moon and stars for help, but their astronomical methods failed. In 1714, England's Parliament offered ˙20,000 (equivalent to millions of dollars today) to anyone who could solve the problem. Self-educated English clockmaker John Harrison (1693-1776) found the answer by inventing a chronometerŠa friction-free timepiece, impervious to pitch and roll, temperature and humidityŠthat would carry the true time from the home port to any destination. But Britain's Board of Longitude, a panel of scientists, naval officers and government officials, favored the astronomers over humble ``mechanics'' like Harrison, who received only a portion of the prize after decades of struggle. Yet his approach ultimately triumphed, enabling Britannia to rule the waves. In an enthralling gem of a book, former New York Times science reporter Sobel spins an amazing tale of political intrigue, foul play, scientific discovery and personal ambition. BOMC and History Book Club selections. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1996-09-09 This look at the scientific quest to find a way for ships at sea to determine their longitude was a PW bestseller for eight weeks. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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