by Dava Sobel
Editor: HarperCollins Publishers
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The tenth edition of the dramatic human history of a scientific epic of the quest: the search for the solution the way to calculate the longitude and the unlikely triumph of English genius.With a new Preface by acclaimed astronaut Neil ArmstrongSobel did the impossible and made sexy watchmaking – not a small exploit “New ScientistAnyone living in the 18th century knew that’ longitude problem’ was the most thorny scientific dilemma of the day – and had been for centuries.Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of the land.Thousands of lives, and the increase in the wealth of the United Nations, hung on a resolutionThe search for a solution had occupied the scientists and their patrons for the better part of two centuries, in 1714, Parliament raised the bids by offering the ransom of a king (GBP20,000) to any person whose method or apparatus proved successful.Countless charlatans weighed in wildly idiotic suggestionsThe scientific establishment of all Europe – from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton – traced the skies, in both hemispheres of his some pursuit of a celestial response.In contrast, only one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solutionLONGITUDE is full of heroism and baffles, brilliance and absurdity, and is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation and watchmaking.
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