By Dava Sobel
Precis: an absolutely illustrated variation of the foreign best-seller "Longitude." "The Illustrated Longitude" recounts in phrases and photographs the epic quest to resolve the best medical challenge of the eighteenth and 3 earlier centuries: settling on how a captain may perhaps pinpoint his ship's place at sea. All too frequently through the a long time of exploration, voyages resulted in catastrophe whilst group and load have been both misplaced at sea or destroyed upon the rocks of an unforeseen landfall. hundreds of thousands of lives and the fortunes of countries held on a solution to the longitude challenge. To motivate an answer, governments tested prizes for someone whose technique or gadget proved profitable. the most important present of 20,000-- really a king's ransom-- was once provided via Britain's Parliament in 1714. The medical establishment-- from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton-- have been definite celestial resolution will be came upon and invested untold attempt during this pursuit. in contrast, John Harrison imagined and equipped the unbelievable: a clock that informed ideal time at sea, identified this day because the chronometer. Harrison's trials and tribulations in the course of his forty-year quest to win the prize are the end result of this striking tale. "The Illustrated Longitude" brings a brand new and demanding measurement to Dava Sobel's celebrated tale. It includes the full unique narrative of "Longitude," redesigned to accompany 183 photographs selected via William Andrewes-- from portraints of each very important determine within the tale to maps and diagrams, scientifc tools, and John Harrison's amazing sea clocks themselves. Andrewes's dependent captions and sidebars on medical and ancient occasions inform their very own tale of longitude, paralleling and illuminating Sobel's memorable story. Dava Sobel is the writer of the best-sellers "Longitude" and "Galileo's Daughter," and the editor and translator of "Letters to Father." She lives in East Hampton, manhattan. William J. H. Andrewes is a museum advisor focusing on the background of clinical tools and time size. he's the editor of "The Quest for Longitude" and lives in harmony, Massachusetts. compliment for "The Illustrated Longitude" "Two revered tellers of the longitude story have teamed up! Sobel 's compelling prose is coupled with colourful and special illustrations supplied via Andrewes. This version responds to entreaties by means of readers who enjoyed Sobel's "Longitude" yet who sought after photos to compliment it."-- "Mercator's international" "Enormous care has been dedicated to the illustrations and captions. Readers will end this ebook significantly extra proficient approximately geography and navigation."-- "USA this day" "This new illustrated variation of Sobel's 1995 learn of Harrison's notable tool strikingly illuminates this mostly unknown yet an important discovery."-- "Dallas Morning information" compliment for "Longitude" "As a lot a story of intrigue because it is of technology .... A booklet jam-packed with gem stones for somebody drawn to background, geography, astronomy, navigation, clockmaking, and-- now not the least-- undeniable previous human ambition and greed."-- "Philadelphia Inquirer" "Intricate and chic .... No novelist may well increase at the parts of Dava Sobel's "Longitude.""-- "Newsweek" "Anyone with an curiosity in historical past or issues maritime should still think of "Longitude." This interesting quantity brings alive the eighteenth century."-- "USA at the present time" "Nearly ideal prose and a powerful tale, a unprecedented book."-- "Washington submit e-book global"
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Additional info for The Illustrated Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
They wished to discover secret routes—and that meant discovering a means to determine longitude. The pathetic state of navigation alarmed the renowned English diarist Samuel Pepys, who served for a time as an official of the Royal Navy. ” That passage appeared prescient when the disastrous wreck on the Scillies scuttled four warships. The 1707 incident, so close to the shipping centers of England, catapulted the longitude question into the forefront of national affairs. The sudden loss of so many lives, so many ships, and so much honor all at once, on top of centuries of previous privation, underscored the folly of ocean navigation without a means for finding longitude.
Mounted on gimbals, so that it remained upright regardless of the ship’s position, and kept inside a binnacle, a stand that supported it and protected it from the elements, the compass helped sailors find direction when overcast skies obscured the sun by day or the North Star at night. But the combination of a clear night sky and a good compass together, many seamen believed, could also tell a ship’s longitude. For if a navigator could read the compass and see the stars, he could get his longitude by splitting the distance between the two north poles—the magnetic and the true.
Under orders to act quickly, the committee members sought expert advice from Sir Isaac Newton, by then a grand old man of seventy-two, and his friend Edmond Halley. Halley had gone to the island of St. Helena some years earlier to map the stars of the southern hemisphere—virtually virgin territory on the landscape of the night. Halley’s published catalog of more than three hundred southern stars had won him election to the Royal Society. He had also traveled far and wide to measure magnetic variation, so he was well versed in longitude lore—and personally immersed in the quest.