In the tercentenary year of the Longitude Act, Fourth Estate present an anniversary edition of Dana Sobel’s bestselling history of an epic scientific quest and the unlikely triumph of an English genius. With an introduction by Neil Armstrong.
Anyone alive in the 18th 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.
The quest for a solution had occupied scientists and their patrons for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, Parliament upped the ante by offering a king’s ransom (£20,000) to anyone whose method or device proved successful. Countless quacks weighed in with preposterous suggestions. The scientific establishment throughout Europe – from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton – had mapped the heavens in both hemispheres in its certain pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution.
Full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd, ‘Longitude’ is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.
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Edition Fourth Estate Publishing Ltd. 1996. ISBN: 1-85702-502-4. This new and unread book is in excellent condition: dust cover intact; brown cloth hard cover bright with gilt letterings on spine; text all clean, neat and tight. Immaculate throughout. Prompt dispatch from UK.Review:
The thorniest scientific problem of the eighteenth century was how to determine longitude. Many thousands of lives had been lost at sea over the centuries due to the inability to determine an east-west position. This is the engrossing story of the clockmaker, John "Longitude" Harrison, who solved the problem that Newton and Galileo had failed to conquer, yet claimed only half the promised rich reward.
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Book Description The Folio Society, 2014. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 7559364