Longitude – Book Review

LongitudeAuthor: Dava Sobel

Publish: Bloomsbury USA, New York (Walker & Company in 1995)

Copyright: 1995, ISBN 080271529X

Cover: Claire Naylon Vaccaro

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, March 22, 2015

Summary: The connection between global longitudes, clocks and the scientific method as politics.


By 1737, John Harrison of Yorkshire County, England had perfected what we today call the clock.

If you woke up this morning and looked at your clock, you most likely did not realize that if you had awaken any time before the year 1737 you would not have had a clock to look at.  This is not to say there was no way to “tell the time”. As Lee Child’s fictional skilled drifter Jack Reacher, can attest, human senses are inundated with time cues from the environment twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Who needs a clock?  Two hundred and eighty years ago there was no fretting over a lack of eight hours of sleep, no imperative to be at the office before nine. Amazingly, there was also no way to conveniently plot a sailing course from a sea port in North Carolina to a port in England.

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