The tenth anniversary edition of the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest: the search for the solution of how to calculate longitude and the unlikely triumph of an English genius.
With a new Foreword by the celebrated astronaut Neil Armstrong. 'Sobel has done the impossible and made horology sexy - no mean feat' New Scientist Anyone alive in the 18th 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 quest for a solution had occupied scientists and their patrons for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, Parliament upped the ante by offering a king's ransom (GBP20,000) to anyone whose method or device proved successful.
Countless quacks weighed in with preposterous suggestions. The scientific establishment throughout 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.
Full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd, LONGITUDE is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 208 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 05/09/2005
- Category: Popular science
- ISBN: 9780007214228
- EPUB from £3.99
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by nielspeterqm
A less familiar face of the Enlightenment: the story of John Harrison (1693-1776), one of the great clockmakers of all time, revealing how precise timekeeping became essential for British naval power. Admirably vivid & compact.
Review by Paulagraph
& I'd thought Galileo solved the longitude problem. Interesting account of what was once the most compelling scientific puzzle. Strange to think of all those pre late 18th c. ships bumbling around on the seas without a real clue as to location.