Language & Reference, Popular Science, Non-Fiction
Paperback Published on: 05/09/2005
In stock
Usually dispatched within 2-3 working days
Make and edit your lists in your account
Check click & collect stock near you
Collect today: Pay in shop

Bookseller Reviews

View all
Back in the 18th century, the 'Longitude Problem' was the most taxing scientific issue of the time since, without the ability to adequately calculate longi... READ MORE
Erin Britton


The tenth anniversary edition of the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest: the search for the solution of how to calculate longitude and the unlikely triumph of an English genius. With a new Foreword by the celebrated astronaut Neil Armstrong.

‘Sobel has done the impossible and made horology sexy – no mean feat’ New Scientist

Anyone alive in the 18th century would have known that ‘the longitude problem’ was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day – and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution.

The quest for a solution had occupied scientists and their patrons for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, Parliament upped the ante by offering a king’s ransom (£20,000) to anyone whose method or device proved successful. Countless quacks weighed in with preposterous suggestions. The scientific establishment throughout Europe – from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton – had mapped the heavens in both hemispheres in its certain pursuit of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution.

Full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd, LONGITUDE is also a fascinating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.

  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • ISBN: 9780007214228
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Weight: 160g
  • Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 14 mm

Customer Reviews

View all
This is a great little read that tells of the quest for a way to determine longitude when out on the open ocean and the conflicts, debates and arguements t... READ MORE
Fascinating, but dry
Finding the latitude in the 17th century was straightforward, but finding the longitude was extremely difficult. This compromised the safety of all seafare... READ MORE
Half Man Half Book
What a little gem!
I saw a programme about this very subject some years ago and found that highly intriguing, though it focussed mostly on the political discussion and the mo... READ MORE
Nocturnal bibliophile
I read this when it first came out 1995, then actually forgot about after landing it out and never getting it back. I was reminded of it and decided I want... READ MORE
Book collector