Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time - Chapter 5: Powder of Sympathy Summary & Analysis

Dava Sobel
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Chapter 5: Powder of Sympathy Summary and Analysis

Many crank solutions to the problem of the longitude were proposed. One crazy idea was to use wounded dogs to find longitude. A less insane solution involved the magnetic compass, but this method was too inaccurate. Two men, William Whiston and Hymphrey Ditton, proposed that cannon shots be used to time distances, but this solution was wholly unworkable. They hoped to use lights, but this would not work on longer voyages. While the Whiston-Ditton solutions failed, they excited enough of the shipmen in Britain to unite them in pressing for the longitude act. Chapter 5 tells the story of the frenzy to solve the longitude problem and how it led to the passage of the longitude act. The Longitude Act sets up the massive financial prize for solving the problem, the prize that Harrison and Maskelyne...

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