Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time - Chapter 2: The Sea Before Time Summary & Analysis

Dava Sobel
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Chapter 2: The Sea Before Time Summary and Analysis

The story begins with the tale of Admiral Sir Clowdisley's unfortunate crash due to a longitudinal miscalculation. The crash destroyed his ship, the Association, and killed nearly all his crew. This is only one example of the uselessness of the typical mode of calculating longitude - "dead reckoning" - or the use of a brief time/distance calculation via the use of a sea-borne log. It was highly inaccurate, particularly on long voyages. Not only did the problem of longitude have human consequences; it also had economic ones. Seagoing trade was particularly difficult without a measure of longitude. So nation-states had an interest in finding a solution. As a result of Sir Clowdisley's misfortune, the British legislature passed the Longitude Act of 1714, promising twenty-thousand pounds to whoever could solve the problem. This chapter...

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This section contains 215 words
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