Longitude: the true story of a lone genius who solved the by Dava Sobel

By Dava Sobel

Somebody alive within the eighteenth century may have recognized that “the longitude challenge” used to be the thorniest clinical hindrance of the day—and have been for hundreds of years. missing the facility to degree their longitude, sailors during the nice a long time of exploration have been actually misplaced at sea once they overlooked land. hundreds of thousands of lives, and the expanding fortunes of countries, held on a resolution.The medical institution of Europe—from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton—had mapped the heavens in either hemispheres in its sure pursuit of a celestial solution. In stark distinction, one guy, John Harrison, dared to visualize a mechanical solution—a clock that will maintain designated time at sea, whatever no clock had ever been in a position to do on land. Longitude is the dramatic human tale of an epic clinical quest, and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with construction his ideal timekeeper, identified this day because the chronometer. jam-packed with heroism and chicanery, it's also a desirable short background of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a brand new window on our international.

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Additional info for Longitude: the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time, Volumes 0-2

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From his post at the new observatory, Cassini sent envoys to Denmark, to the ruins of Uranienborg, the “heavenly castle” built by Tycho Brahe, the greatest naked-eye astronomer of all time. Using observations of Jupiter’s satellites taken at these two sites, Paris and Uranienborg, Cassini confirmed the latitude and longitude of both. Cassini also called on observers in Poland and Germany to cooperate in an international task force devoted to longitude measurements, as gauged by the motions of Jupiter’s moons.

Ditton reasoned that sounds might serve as a signal to seamen. Cannon reports or other very loud noises, intentionally sounded at certain times from known reference points, could fill the oceans with audible landmarks. Mr. Whiston, concurring heartily, recalled that the blasts of the great guns fired in the engagement with the French fleet off Beachy Head, in Sussex, had reached his own ears in Cambridge, some ninety miles away. ” If enough signal boats, therefore, were stationed at strategic points from sea to sea, sailors could gauge their distance from these stationary gun ships by comparing the known time of the expected signal to the actual shipboard time when the signal was heard.

And after all those early navigators lost at least half their vision finding the latitude, who would wince at wounding a few wretched dogs in the quest for longitude? A much more humane solution lay in the magnetic compass, which had been invented in the twelfth century and become standard equipment on all ships by this time. Mounted on gimbals, so that it remained upright regardless of the ship’s position, and kept inside a binnacle, a stand that supported it and protected it from the elements, the compass helped sailors find direction when overcast skies obscured the sun by day or the North Star at night.

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