From Publishers Weekly
The latest from noted science writer Raymo (An Intimate Look at the Night Sky
) isn't merely a history of the prime meridian, the zero-longitude line passing through eastern England that is the starting point for measuring both space and time on Earth. Roughly speaking, Raymo is interested in how we understand our place in the cosmos, and his walk along the prime meridian is a meditation on the evolving ways that humans have measured and understood space and time, stopping here and there at some of the most prominent landmarks in the history of science. The slender volume covers an astonishing amount of ground, ranging from the astronomers of ancient Alexandria to the fellows of the British Royal Society, from Piltdown Man to contemporary debates over relativism and scientific knowledge. The result is an unexpected combination of popular history, travelogue and intellectual memoir, as meandering and invigorating as a brisk country walk, and while there is little here that hasn't been recounted elsewhere, the real joy is in the journey—one could hardly ask for a better travel companion than Raymo, a professor emeritus of physics and astronomy whose prose is delightfully erudite and introspective. 25 b&w illus., 1 map. (May)
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From Scientific American
The story of the prime meridian is in itself fascinating: in 1884 an international agreement fixed a meridian of zero longitude and standard time through southeast England. But Raymo, a physicist and science writer who wrote a popular weekly column for the Boston Globe, goes beyond this tale. He uses an actual walk along the meridian as a "thread on which to hang" a history of astronomy, geology and paleontology. Stops at sites near the meridian include Newtons rooms at Cambridge, Darwins house at Downe, the infamous town of Piltdown, and the place where the first dinosaur fossils were discovered. A walk with this delightful writer is the best exercise a reader could have.
Editors of Scientific American