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Longitude : the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific p
Dava Sobel
Adult Nonfiction QB225.S64 1995

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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. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

We take so much for granted. Few of us have ever thought about why and how sailors navigate without becoming lost the moment land is no longer in sight. In fact, prior to the 18th century, whole navies, thousands of lives, and great fortunes were lost because no one knew how to measure longitude. Here is the story of the growing need, the parliamentary offers of huge awards, the politics, the frustrations, and the eventual success of John Harrison. An unschooled woodworker, Harrison developed the chronometer, which was much criticized at the outset in part because competition for the princely rewards was so fierce. The interlocking histories of astronomy, clocks, and navigation reveal the significance of the problem to the seagoing world, the parallel efforts to find answers, and Harrison's drive for perfection and resolution. While the complexities of the problems and personalities are not always easy to follow here, this abridged recording is nonetheless an interesting chronicle of scientific achievement. Reader Jane Jacobs consistently narrates in a clear and distinct manner. Libraries with collections in seafaring and scientific adventure should acquire.‘Carolyn Alexander, Columbia Lib. System, Monterey, Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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