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

by Dava Sobel
Format: Paperback, 180pp.
ISBN: 0140258795
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Pub. Date: September  1996
Other Formats: Hardcover



"In 1714, the British Parliament offered . . . L 20,000 ($12 million in today's currency) to anyone who could solve the problem of how to measure longitude at sea. Sobel recounts clockmaker John Harrison's lifelong struggle to win this prize by developing a timepiece impervious to the pitch and roll ofthe sea. His clock {is} known today as the chronometer." (Libr J) Index.


In 1714, England's Parliament offered a reward to anyone whose method or device for measuring longitude proved successful. John Harrison imagined a clock that would withstand pitch and roll, temperature and humidity, and keep precise time at sea--something no clock had been able to do on land. This is the story of Harrison's 40-year effort to build his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer.

From The Publisher

Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest, and of John Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd, it is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking. Through Dava Sobel's consummate skill, Longitude will open a new window on our world for all who read it.


From School Library Journal  

Opening with a chapter that outlines what follows, Sobel whets readers' appetites for hearing the colorful details of the search for a way for mariners to determine longitude. In an age when ships' stores were limited and scurvy killed many a seaman, missing a landfall often meant death-as, of course, did running aground. Sobel provides a lively treatment of the search through the centuries for a ready answer to the longitude problem, either through using lunar tables or through making an accurate clock not subject to the vicissitudes of weather and ocean conditions. Her account includes not only scientific advances, but also the perseverance, pettiness, politics, and interesting anecdotes that figured in along the way (it wasn't limes, for example, that first prevented scurvy on English ships, but sauerkraut). A pleasing mixture of basic science, cultural history, and personality conflicts makes this slim volume a winner.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA

 From Entertainment Weekly

Beautifully written.



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