Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Paperback – Oct 30 2007
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The thorniest scientific problem of the eighteenth century was how to determine longitude. Many thousands of lives had been lost at sea over the centuries due to the inability to determine an east-west position. This is the engrossing story of the clockmaker, John "Longitude" Harrison, who solved the problem that Newton and Galileo had failed to conquer, yet claimed only half the promised rich reward. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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 chronometer?a friction-free timepiece, impervious to pitch and roll, temperature and humidity?that 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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Moving on to the usual format of Good and Bad, the only real negative I would apply here is that it does at times seem a bit scattered, as if a good central idea was stretched a bit beyond its proper length. It just seems to meander rather randomly at times.
On the vast positive side, there are all sorts of delicious tidbits from history. So much so that it spurred me to write a blog entry just from the first few dozen pages. I'll reproduce it at the end as an illustration but in summary a very informative book filled with delightful anecdotes.
Tonight's reading of Dava Sobel's book `Longitude' reminded me of one of my favorite great 'difficulties' from history. Specifically, just how hard it has been throughout mankind's existence to tell what exactly the time is. It is one of the most bedeviling of problems, since we live on a sphere and the motion of the sun and moon define the very concept of time for us. Unfortunately, twelve noon in New York looks exactly like twelve noon in New Delhi.Read more ›
"The Illustrated Longitude" contains the entire original text of Dava Sobel's book, "Longitude", along with 178 illustrations provided by William J. H. Andrewes. Mr. Andrewes hosted the Longitude Symposium that inspired Dava Sobel's book and has himself published the annotated proceedings of the Symposium in his book entitled "The Quest for Longitude". The illustrations in this book consist of portraits of people and photographs of documents and instruments which are referenced in the text. The documents include maps, journals, pages of books, and official decrees. Nearly every major player in the Longitude drama is represented with at least one portrait. Most fascinating are the photographs of the time pieces, themselves. I found the illustrations to be only mildly interesting until I got to the discussion of John Harrison's longitude clocks. At this point, I was astonished to see how grand and beautiful H-1 was...and still is, and how small and elegant H-4 is in contrast. I found it difficult to picture Harrison's clocks while reading Dava Sobel's book, and the ability to see them in this illustrated version has left me even more impressed with Mr. Harrison's work. All of Harrison's clocks are represented with large color photographs, and many of the later copies of his works by Larcum Kendall, Thomas Mudge, John Arnold, and Thomas Earnshaw are also pictured.Read more ›
This 1998 edition contains reproductions of a large number of historical documents, charts, and portraits and includes an incredible collection of photos of timekeeping and navigational instruments. Together with a 4-video set of an expertly produced program by A&E, starring Jeremy Irons, this is a fabulous addition to any maritime books collections.
Most recent customer reviews
Story well told giving life to historical events, which somehow are still similar to our present day bureaucratic institutions. Excellent read.Published 22 days ago by Philip Mayille
I just loved this little book. I an not adept in science but I enjoy reading about the history of the world's most important discoveries. Dava Sobel's book is a perfect fit. Read morePublished 8 months ago by R Helen
Good book.....may have to order the movie (of the same name) from Amazon now!Published 12 months ago by Chris Young
I just finished reading Longitude and thoroughly enjoyed the short but information packed story,. Very well researched and plainly written. Read morePublished 18 months ago by pat campbell
I used to be a sailor....took longitude and latitude for granted,as I do so many extraordinary discoveries that give comfort to my life. A good readPublished on Feb. 5 2014 by Sandra L. Lambert
Great Service from the sender, quick and clean book.
Dava Sobel writing compelling story. This is a must read for all amateur back yard astronomers.
It is a subject of great interest to me
The book is well written easily understood and explains
the complexity in solving the age old problem of... Read more
The order arrived as predicted and is in the condition stated. I am more than pleased and happy to use the seller again.
John Harrison, an English clock-maker devoted his life to the production of just 4 clocks. In doing so he solved the centuries old problem of captains determining their longitude... Read morePublished on June 26 2011 by Jeff Nijsse
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