By Dava Sobel,

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

Book description

The dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest and of one man's forty-year obsession to find a solution to the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day--"the longitude problem."

Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that "the longitude problem" was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day-and…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Longitude as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I adore books that go deep into fascinating minutiae, and Longitude is a master class in that.

Sobel looks at John Harrison’s quest to solve a problem that had bedeviled mariners and scientists for centuries: How do you keep accurate time at sea so you can determine your longitude—where you are, east to west?

Sailors and scientists had tried and failed to solve the puzzle, but Harrison finally did it, and the story of how he did it is both prosaic and world-changing in its detail and scope.

Plus, it’s just a ripping good yarn of failures, setbacks, and seafaring…

Until about the mid-18th century, ships routinely got lost when out of sight of land, their crews at risk of starvation, dying of thirst, or being wrecked on inconveniently located rocks. While the likes of Galileo had failed to find a solution in the stars to navigation's "longitude problem", English clockmaker John Harrison was convinced he had the mechanical answer. Sobel's finely and simply crafted tale highlights the jealousies of powerful people that Harrison had to overcome in proving his point.

From Peter's list on telling stories from real life.

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