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Longitude by Dava Sobel

Longitude (original 1995; edition 2016)

by Dava Sobel, Dava Sobel (Preface)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,798144830 (3.87)251
Authors:Dava Sobel
Other authors:Dava Sobel (Preface)
Info:Folio Society (2016)
Collections:Your library
Tags:Folio Society, Science

Work details

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel (Author) (1995)

  1. 40
    The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes (Laura400)
  2. 10
    The Frozen Water Trade: A True Story by Gavin Weightman (harmen)
  3. 32
    The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (polutropon)
    polutropon: Eco's book is a magical realist novel set in the Age of Exploration, in which the quest to reliably determine longitude at sea plays a pivotal role.
  4. 00
    A Short Bright Flash: Augustin Fresnel and the Birth of the Modern Lighthouse by Theresa Levitt (ALinNY458)
    ALinNY458: A Short Brief Flash is a high readable book that I thought had some parallels to the story told in Dava Sobel's fine book.
  5. 00
    Greenwich: The Place Where Days Begin and End by Charles Jennings (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: An account of the invention of true chronometer and definition of Longitude.
  6. 00
    Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos by Alan W. Hirshfeld (LouRead)
    LouRead: Another dramatic story of the discovery of a scientific truth, told with flair. You won't want to put it down...
  7. 00
    Genesis to Jupiter by Peter Mason (KayCliff)
  8. 01
    Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt (John_Vaughan)

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» See also 251 mentions

English (133)  Spanish (3)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (142)
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
This book tells the story of John Harrison—not the mysterious character played by Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness, but the self-taught clockmaker who devised a chronometer that would allow mariners to determine their longitude while at sea. The book explains how the problem of longitude arose, the two camps for possible solutions (mechanical vs astronomical, that is using lunar distances to calculate longitude), and the mechanics of the timepieces that Harrison built.

It is a well-told, highly interesting story and very much recommended if you like stories about the early days of science, about exploration and navigation, or about more out-of-the-way parts of history. I’d also recommend this in conjunction with Timekeepers, by Simon Garfield, which talks about the history of telling time in general and is similarly nerdy about the details of clocks and watches. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Sep 1, 2018 |
Picked this up thinking, "I dare you to make this interesting." She won. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
As a previous reader noted in pencil a through the volume I read - illustrations please! Very readable, a nice calculation on what level of detail would keep a casual reader interested while fairly informed. A horologist would find this skimpy indeed, but such are not the intended audience. ( )
  quondame | May 10, 2018 |
A short, fascinating book about a topic that you wouldn't think all that interesting - longitude. The book looks at the historical challenge for sailors not being able to figure out what their longitude was while at sea, and the contest for scientists (or clockmakers as it turns out) to come up with an accurate method to determine longitude at sea.

I really enjoyed this read. I liked the debate between those who wanted to use the stars and those who wanted to develop an accurate clock that could keep perfect time at sea. I won't say more so I don't give away the story, but worth a read for anyone interested in the 18th century, the age of sail, or just a good story. ( )
1 vote msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
A primeira edição portuguesa do livro “LONGITUDE” (Temas & Debates), de Dava Sobel, data de 1995 e só passados dezassete anos é que eu tive a oportunidade de o ler. Pode-se especular que cheguei um pouco atrasado e talvez isso seja verdade. Contudo, prefiro pensar que, assim como o feito do protagonista, Jack Harrison, só foi reconhecido muitos anos após a sua morte, cheguei tarde, mas ainda cheguei a tempo.

Leia o resto da minha crítica em: http://anguloobtuso.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/postigo-1/ ( )
  Joel.G..Gomes | Jan 12, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
Ms. Sobel, a former science reporter for The New York Times, confesses in her source notes that ''for a few months at the outset, I maintained the insane idea that I could write this book without traveling to England and seeing the timekeepers firsthand.'' Eventually she did visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, where the four clocks that James Harrison constructed are exhibited.
She writes, ''Coming face with these machines at last -- after having read countless accounts of their construction and trial, after having seen every detail of their insides and outsides in still and moving pictures -- reduced me to tears.''
Such is the eloquence of this gem of a book that it makes you understand exactly how she felt.
Here's a swell little book that tells an amazing story that is largely forgotten today but that deserves to be remembered.

It is the story of the problem of navigation at sea--which plagued ocean-going mariners for centuries--and how it was finally solved.

It is the story of how an unknown, uneducated and unheralded clockmaker solved the problem that had stumped some of the greatest scientific minds. And it is the story of how the Establishment of the 18th Century tried to block his solution.

The essential problem is this: In the middle of the ocean, how can you tell where you are? That is, how can you tell how far east or west of your starting point you have gone?

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sobel, DavaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrewes, William J. H.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, NeilForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dilla Martínez, XavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I'm playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. --Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
For my mother, Betty Gruber Sobel, a four-star navigator who can sail by the heavens but always drives by way of Canarsie.
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Once on a Wednesday excursion when I was a little girl, my father bought me a beaded wire ball that I loved.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The history of portable time, or watch, and its important impact on navigating waters. John Harrison’s inventions of timepieces (H-1, H-2, H-3) leading up to the chronometer (H-4) in 1760 and its ability to chart longitude. John Harrison’s difficulties with the Board of Longitude in acknowledging his masterpiece.
GRÁÐUR lengdar er eftir Johan Harrison "sem varði fjörutíu árum í að smíða fullkominn tímamæli (sjóúr) og leysti eitt erfiðasta vandamál siglingafræðinnar á fyrri öldum," segir í kynningu. Sagt er frá hetjudáðum og klækjum, snilld og fáránleika, og mikilvægum þáttum í sögu stjörnufræði, siglingafræði og úrsmíða.
Bókafélagið Ölduslóð gefur bókina út. Elín Guðmundsdóttir íslenskaði. Bókin er 143 bls. Grafík prentaði. Leiðbeinandi verð: 3.280 kr.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140258795, Paperback)

The thorniest scientific problem of the eighteenth century was how to determine longitude. Many thousands of lives had been lost at sea over the centuries due to the inability to determine an east-west position. This is the engrossing story of the clockmaker, John "Longitude" Harrison, who solved the problem that Newton and Galileo had failed to conquer, yet claimed only half the promised rich reward.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:49 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

During the great age of exploration, the "longitude problem" was the gravest of scientific challenges. Without the ability to determine longitude, sailors and their ships were lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. In 1714, desperate for a solution, England's Parliament offered 20,000 pounds (the equivalent of millions of dollars today) to anyone who could solve the problem. With all the skill and storytelling ability of a great novelist, Dava Sobel captures the dramatic story at the heart of this epic scientific quest.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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