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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (1995)

por Dava Sobel

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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9,139182857 (3.88)306
Biography & Autobiography. Science. Nonfiction. Geography. HTML:The dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and of one man's forty-year obsession to find a solution to the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day??"the longitude problem."

Anyone alive in the eighteenth 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. One man, John Harrison, in complete opposition to the scientific community, dared to imagine a mechanical solution-a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land.

Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a new window on our wor
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(1995)Very good story of Englishman John Harrison who came up with a chronometer that allowed seamen to figure out longitude on their voyages. 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. (Publisher's Weekly)
  derailer | Jan 25, 2024 |
I didn't intend to read the entire book in one day, but that's what happened.

If you've ever read anything by Tom Standage, you'll enjoy this book. Sobel says in her sources that this book was meant to be a popular account rather than a scholarly exploration, and it sure reads like a popular account. She weaves the problem of longitudinal navigation so well that you're compelled to read through the solution even if you've never set foot on a large vessel in your life.

It's also interesting, now, to think that these clocks created by John Harrison are still in working order, nearly 300 years later. The craftsmanship employed by an amateur is staggering and underscores the immensity of his work. ( )
  ohheybrian | Dec 29, 2023 |
This is another of those under the radar books about science where I’ve said to myself, “Why didn’t I know any of this stuff or of John Harrison?” He is the focus of this book about the development of a method of determining longitude, a process that was instrumental especially in sea travel. Harrison and his son William throughout their careers fought the proponents of determining longitude by using the sky and complex mathematics. Of course, if ships encountered bad weather or even cloud over, that method wasn’t dependable. The four devices Harrison invented, all carrying the first initial of his last name were marvels of their time and ours, thanks to their permanent display at the British Museum of Clocks and Watches at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. Harrison should stand with the greatest scientists of all time for his achievement. ( )
  FormerEnglishTeacher | Dec 19, 2023 |
A good ol' history read! This was a fascinating look into the battle over lunar distances and timepiece development in the darker ages of navigation at sea! It was a clear, well-researched, well-presented book about the hunt for an accurate tool for determining longitude. ( )
  erkldrkl | Jul 20, 2023 |
This is the best kind of history and the best kind of science writing. It tells us readers about about people, history, technology, and all the other contexts we need to understand how navigators got the tools they needed to know where in the great oceans they were. ( )
  mykl-s | May 29, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 181 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Ms. Sobel, a former science reporter for The New York Times, confesses in her source notes that ''for a few months at the outset, I maintained the insane idea that I could write this book without traveling to England and seeing the timekeepers firsthand.'' Eventually she did visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, where the four clocks that James Harrison constructed are exhibited.
She writes, ''Coming face with these machines at last -- after having read countless accounts of their construction and trial, after having seen every detail of their insides and outsides in still and moving pictures -- reduced me to tears.''
Such is the eloquence of this gem of a book that it makes you understand exactly how she felt.
 
Here's a swell little book that tells an amazing story that is largely forgotten today but that deserves to be remembered.

It is the story of the problem of navigation at sea--which plagued ocean-going mariners for centuries--and how it was finally solved.

It is the story of how an unknown, uneducated and unheralded clockmaker solved the problem that had stumped some of the greatest scientific minds. And it is the story of how the Establishment of the 18th Century tried to block his solution.

The essential problem is this: In the middle of the ocean, how can you tell where you are? That is, how can you tell how far east or west of your starting point you have gone?
adicionada por smasler | editarLos Angeles Times, Lee Dembart (Nov 24, 1995)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (21 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Sobel, Davaautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Altena, Ernst vanTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Armstrong, NeilPrefácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Dilla Martínez, XavierTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ernst van AltenaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Reading, KateNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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When I'm playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. --Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
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For my mother, Betty Gruber Sobel, a four-star navigator who can sail by the heavens but always drives by way of Canarsie.
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Once on a Wednesday excursion when I was a little girl, my father bought me a beaded wire ball that I loved.
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Biography & Autobiography. Science. Nonfiction. Geography. HTML:The dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and of one man's forty-year obsession to find a solution to the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day??"the longitude problem."

Anyone alive in the eighteenth 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. One man, John Harrison, in complete opposition to the scientific community, dared to imagine a mechanical solution-a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land.

Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a new window on our wor

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