- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (November 5, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007790163
- ISBN-13: 978-0007790166
- ASIN: 080271529X
- Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (987 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Paperback – October 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
After reading a book about Mason and Dixon and all of the incredibly (for me) complex math and astronomy involved, I was slow to begin this book. Author Dava Sobel, however, cuts through all the more complicated principles like a good pre-calculus teacher. I would even suggest this book could appeal to adventurous 8th graders. The history is impressive. The Harrison family were watchmakers, but as very precise and diligent watchmakers competitive with the Royal Society and haughty astronomers like Nevil Maskelyne. John Harrison had size, cost, material, temperature fluctuations, moisture, waves, and many more atmospheric obstacles to confront while those relying on lunar readings went much further to produce much less. For the record, I had never heard of John Harrison. His predecessors include Halley, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo, whose attempts to time the speed of light is briefly retold here.
This is summer reading, a hero's tale, good defeating bad, The Little Engine that Could. If you or your child is interested in sailing, navigation, astronomy, inventions, machining, or how the British came to rule the word for a time, this is a book to read and re-read.
The books paints the complex story of Harrison's Great achievements and does so in an easy to read format.
Sorbel writes enthusiastically and holds attention without including extraneous detail which might bog down the reading, and after reading Longitude the second time- now I want to go back to the observatory and also to the clock museum in Guildhall, which I did not see.
The science of positioning on the Earth is fascinating and anyone who finds global positioning and astronomy intriguing should read this book