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Book Review of Longitude Sometimes all it takes is one man One man who believes and endeavors One man who will go against the grain no matter the odds In her book Longitude The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time published by Walker and Co in 1995 with 184 pages Dava Sobell portrays the difficulty of cultivating a means with which to accurately measure lines of longitude in a way many people may never have thought about Today it is taken for granted the effort that was put into longitudinal lines And to shed light on the subject Sobell has reconstructed a bit of the past In doing so she has placed most of the focus on the man responsible for our understanding of longitude today A man who nearly single-handedly created an accurate measuring system for longitude and developed large advancements in clockwork You may be pondering how the two could be related but the beauty of longitude is that time measures longitude and so began John Harrisons work The problem of finding a measuring system to accurately measure longitude persisted up to and into the eighteenth century where it reached the pinacle of its debate It was during this century in which the Board of Longitude was formed in order promote the establishment of an accurate measure of longitude specifically while at sea This committee setup a monetary prize of 20000 to the person who could develop a way to measure longitude to within half a degree of accuracy Over the course of many years two distinct approaches to the solution evolved John Harrison a loner who pioneered the approach of the craftsmen headed one approach It was Harrison who nearly single-handedly allowed for the use of timepieces to judge ones position of longitude To do so required extremely precise clocks which at that time did not exist Timepieces of the eighteenth
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