Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
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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.
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And development of promising ideas. And they demanded a king’s ransom for the author of the true solution. 6. The Prize Her cutty sark, o’ Paisley harn, That while a lassie she had worn, In longitude tho’ sorely scanty, It was her best, and she was vauntie. —ROBERT BURNS, “Tam o’Shanter” The merchants’ and seamen’s petition pressing for action on the matter of longitude arrived at Westminster Palace in May of 1714. In June, a Parliamentary committee assembled to respond to.
—LORD BYRON, “Don Juan” So little is known of the early life of John Harrison that his biographers have had to spin the few thin facts into whole cloth. These highlights, however, recall such stirring elements in the lives of other legendary men that they give Harrison’s story a leg up. For instance, Harrison educated himself with the same hunger for knowledge that kept young Abraham Lincoln reading through the night by candlelight. He went from, if not rags, then assuredly humble.
Consulted a table that listed the angular distances between the moon and numerous celestial objects for various hours of the day, as they would be observed from London or Paris. (As their name implies, angular distances are expressed in degrees of arc; they describe the size of the angle created by two lines of sight, running from the observer’s eye to the pair of objects in question.) He then compared the time when he saw the moon thirty degrees away from the star Regulus, say, in the heart of.
He was awarding William the ears and tail of the vanquished animal. What’s more, even with the Watch in hand to tell the time in London, Digges would still need his octant to establish local time at sea. A little over a week after they reached Jamaica, William, Robison, and the Watch went back to England aboard the Merlin. With worse weather on the return, William worried constantly about keeping H-4 dry. The rough seas leapt onto the ship, often submerging the decks under two feet of water and.
Pulse of Time: Galileo Galilei, the Determination of Longitude, and the Pendulum Clock. Firenze: Bibliotecca di Nuncius, 1991. Betts, Jonathan. Harrison. London: National Maritime Museum, 1993. Brown, Lloyd A. The Story of Maps. Boston: Little, Brown, 1949. Dutton, Benjamin. Navigation and Nautical Astronomy. Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1951. Earnshaw, Thomas. Longitude: An Appeal to the Public. London: 1808; rpt. British Horological Institute, 1986. Espinasse, Margaret. Robert Hooke.