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

Dava Sobel, Author Walker & Company $19 (184p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1312-4
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/1995
Release date: 11/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Prebound-Other - 184 pages - 978-0-613-02220-0
Paperback - 184 pages - 978-0-8027-1529-6
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-1-4159-5341-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55927-397-8
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-00-724183-5
Paperback - 184 pages - 978-0-14-025879-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-7531-5036-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-2378-6
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-8027-7943-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61637-278-1
Paperback - 978-2-02-033858-5
Prebound-Glued - 184 pages - 978-1-61383-594-4
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