An exciting scientific adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men, Longitude is full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd. It is also a captivating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.
For centuries, the determination of longitude was thought to be an impossibility. 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.
The quest for a solution had occupied scientists for the better part of two centuries when, in 1714, England's Parliament upped the ante by offering a king's ransom -- £20,000, or about $12,000,000 in today's currency -- to anyone whose method or device proved successful. Countless quacks weighed in with preposterous suggestions.
Then one man -- an unschooled woodworker named John Harrison -- dared to imagine a mechanical solution, a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land. Longitude is the dramatic human story of an epic scientific quest, and of Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer.