Longitude : The True Story of a Lone Genius who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time
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 world.
Dava Sobel has written a gem of a book...one of the best reads for the non-scientific writing to come along for many a moon." Financial Times "A true life thriller, jam-packed with political intrigue, international warfare, personal feuds and financial skullduggery." Daily Mail "Rarely have I enjoyed a book as much as Dava Sobel's Longitude. She has an extraordinary gift of making difficult ideas clear." Daily Telegraph
Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science reporter for the New York Times and writes frequently about science for several magazines, including Audubon, Discover, Life and Omni.