[PDF/EBOOK] Longitude The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time BY Dava Sobel

Dava Sobel ¸ 9 Free download

D 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 clock making and opens a new window on our worldOn its 10th anniversary a gift edition of this classic book with a forward by one of history's greatest explorers and eight pages of color illustrations. In Longitude Dava Sobel chronicles the world s uest to tame time In 1714 the English Parliament passed the longitude act It established the Board of Longitude and offered a prize of 20000 pounds to anyone who could find a simple and practical method for the precise determination of a ship s longitude In particular Sobel highlights John Harrison s pursuit of the prize She traces the arc of his career and details the innovations of each of his subseuent entries H1 H5 Unfortunately even though his Chronometers repeatedly proved their worth in Sea trial after sea trial and the watch uickly gained adherents among sea captains Harrison was thwarted at every turn in his attempt to claim the prize Jealous rivals on the board used their influence to change the rules of the contest multiple times His relations with the board became so acrimonious that eventually his friends went over the board s head and appealed directly to the King himself George III asked that a special act of Parliament be passed and Harrison finally received his prizeDespite it s brevity Longitude is an incredibly engaging and educational book Sobel writes in a way that makes the science and math accessible to the general readerIf you re interested in this subject I d also recommend the 2000 AE movie which was based on this book

review Longitude The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Longitude The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

He scientific establishment of Europe from Galileo to Sir Issac 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 a clock that would keep precise time at sea something no clock had ever been able to do on land Longitude is a dramatic human story of an epic scientific uest an. Longitude is a remarkable achievement The recipe for sales success in international book sales rarely contains such unpromising ingredients as these an obsessive carpenter s son from Yorkshire an intractable navigational problem and a lot of clocks Yet Longitude succeeds in weaving a narrative full of clashing of ideas intriguing personalities bizarre anecdotes and at its heart a tale of the little guy challenging the EstablishmentThe story is one that has long been familiar to both naval historians and lovers of clocks two introspective groups who had failed to bring it to a wider public Enter Dava Sorbel with a journalist s nose for a good story and the flare to tell it well This is a page turner that makes what could be a mire of mechanical and mathematical detail simple easy to follow and enjoy by anyone whether they are confirmed landlubbers or have a previous interest in the seaFrom a purest point of view the book does have its faults Sorbel s understandable desire to tease a cracking yarn from the history leads her to be partial in choosing her facts She is unfairly hard on the HalleyMaskylene method of calculating longitude for example which worked too and had the big advantage of only reuiring euipment that already exist onboard ships a good compass a sextant and a trained navigator It is small wonder that an unproven machine full of cogs and springs was viewed with suspicion It is also only with hindsight that it is clear the marine chronometers was the right solution The copy of H4 that Cook used on his second voyage cost 450 and took a skilled watch maker several years to make To give an indication of cost building a frigate at the time cost about 14K Given each ship would need several chronometers to check against each other at the time of Harrison s death it was still not a practical solution for most vessels It was those that came after Harrison especially Thomas Earnshaw who perfected and then mass produced reliable chronometersBut that is the grumpy naval historian part of me speaking The author of popular naval fiction part can only applaud a wonderful book

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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 resolutionT. On October 22 1707 four English warships crashed into the rocks of the Scilly Isles southwest of England They uickly sank killing 2000 men The cause of this catastrophe was the inability to determine longitude a problem that beset mariners everywhere In 1714 the British Parliament set a 20000 reward for whoever could solve the problem The Board of Longitude which would be primarily comprised of astronomers was set up to award the money To win the full prize the method or device had to be accurate to within one half degree on a trip from England to the West IndiesThere had been many ideas about how to determine longitude but none worked reliably They fell into two basic camps the astronomical and the clock The idea behind astronomy was to find a pattern of stars the track of the moon or even the eclipses of the four known moons of Jupiter that would yield longitude The clock idea was based on time difference 15 degrees of longitude euals an hour So a clock that could keep accurate time set to London time could be compared with a clock set to local time The local time could be determined by sighting the sun at noon The time difference would give the degrees of longitude from London But prior to the eighteenth century clocks didn t work reliably in the rough environment of ships at sea so the London clock would be off In 1727 a self educated village carpenter and clock maker John Harrison heard about the prize In 1730 he had plans for a chronometer as mariner s clocks of sufficient accuracy would later be called He showed his plans to Edmund Halley of comet fame a board member who sent him to a prominent clockmaker and fellow Royal Society member who encouraged Harrison to build his clock Five years later Harrison presented the clock to the board He had been able to take it on a voyage to Lisbon where it proved its worth Harrison s clock was original intricate and exuisitely crafted The board was impressed but Harrison himself was not He felt he could do better and took another five years to build a second chronometer The Royal Society tested the second clock and gave it accolades but Harrison again decided he could do even better and took twenty years to build a thirdIn the thirty years Harrison was building his three clocks astronomers were busily cataloging stars and navigational instruments were vastly improving By 1760 the board was considering a complicated but effective method of calculating a ship s longitude from the positions of the moon and stars And since the board was mostly made up of astronomers they instinctively preferred an astronomical solution to a simply mechanical oneHarrison was awarded the prestigious Copley Gold Medal in 1749 at the recommendation of the Royal Society for the many innovations he had made in his clocks that made them so accurate and reliable But as usual Harrison himself was the hardest to satisfy Immediately after completing clock three he built a fourth a pocket watch that ultimately would win the coveted prize On a West Indies trip the pocket chronometer worked perfectly but the astronomers on the board dawdled about awarding the prize since they were now enad with an astronomical solution Since presenting his first chronometer Harrison had been receiving stipends so that his work could continue but the prize was elusive Harrison felt his chief nemesis was Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne a strong advocate of the astronomical method Maskelyne took it upon himself to conduct further tests on Harrison s watch Finally in 1765 the board awarded Harrison 10000 half the prize and ordered him to make two of the watches to show it could be duplicated The board also commissioned another clockmaker to build an identical twin of Harrison s watch The twin was selected to accompany Captain Cook on his second voyage around the world The chronometer won high praise from Cook who used it to make accurate maps Finally through the intervention of King George III Harrison received a final 8750 in 1773One of the biggest problems with Harrison s chronometer was the cost at least 400 to duplicate when a sextant and tables cost 20 But fifteen years later the price would drop to 80 and would keep declining By 1815 over 5000 chronometers were in service The problem of longitude had been solved Sobel s short history reads uickly The book contains nice photographs of Harrison s clocks showing their complex inner workings The chronometers have been restored and now reside in British museums Sobel explains some of the principles of clock mechanisms and details some of Harrison s innovations She also covers failed as well as successful astronomical approaches to finding longitude But this is also a human interest story of an odd difficult man a homespun insular genius who faces the complex scientific society of eighteenth century England Recommended for the science buff and general reader alike


10 thoughts on “Longitude The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

  1. says:

    I first read Longitude by Dava Sobel just after I finished high school and I devoured it in a sitting or two It was the first non fiction book I think that I really couldn't put down The true story is great legendary histori

  2. says:

    On October 22 1707 four English warships crashed into the rocks of the Scilly Isles southwest of England They uickly sank killing 2000 men The cause of this catastrophe was the inability to determine longitude a problem th

  3. says:

    Longitude from Dava Sobel is a fascinating account of how a virtually unknown watchmaker named John Harrison conuered one of the oldest and thorniest problems surrounding the ocean voyages the problem of accurate

  4. says:

    Longitude is a remarkable achievement The recipe for sales success in international book sales rarely contains such unpromising ingredients as these – an obsessive carpenter’s son from Yorkshire an intractable navigational problem and a lot of clocks Yet Longitude succeeds in weaving a narrative full of clashing of ideas intriguing person

  5. says:

    Really lovely and very interesting reading Everybody knows about longitude but I guess not so many know the strug

  6. says:

    Non fiction about the uest to develop a reliable method for measuring longitude The first several chapters describe the difficulties encountered by ships attempting to navigate solely based on latitude The focus then shifts to a biography of John Harrison the 18th century clockmaker who attempted to solve this problem based on timekeeping It also describes his primary competitor and adversary Nevil Maskelyne who was keen

  7. says:

    This book was intended for the general reader Conseuently it did not deal much with the details either of the astronomical or mechanical approaches to solving the problem of finding longitude on the high seas Instead it focused on description of John Harrison's uest to build an ocean chronometer The author treats the difficulties Harrison encountered convincing the Board of Longitude of the efficacy of his de

  8. says:

    An amazing book following the attempts to solve the longitudinal navigation problems The author’s research covered several hundred

  9. says:

    In Longitude Dava Sobel chronicles the world's uest to tame time In 1714 the English Parliament passed the longitude act It established the Board of Longitude and offered a prize of 20000 pounds to anyone who could find a simple and practical method for the precise determination of a ship's longitude In particular Sobel highlights John Harrison's pursuit of the prize She traces the arc of his career and details the innovations of each of h

  10. says:

    I was reminded of this book today because in was on the PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for 3 31 2015 I read it back in the year 2000 I have favorable recollections of the book and I found it to be in interesting story The following short review is copied from the calendarAnyone with an interest in history or things maritime should consider Longitude said USA Today of this bestseller Sobel describes 18th century clockma

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