December 12, 2012

Finding longitude

The Man Who Made Time Travel
by Kathryn Lasky
pictures by Kevin Hawkes

In the 1700's, there were no accurate ways to determine a ship's location. While calculating latitude (north-south) was relatively easy, finding longitude (the east-west position) was a challenge due to inaccurate clocks. After numerous shipwrecks, the British Parliament promised to pay 20,000 pounds (12 million dollars) to anyone able to solve the problem. Many scientists, mathematicians and astronomers tried to win the contest, but in the end, it was clockmaker John Harrison who created the seafaring timepiece now known as the chronometer.

In this well-told picture book biography, Kathryn Lasky tells the story of a remarkable man who spent a lifetime perfecting an amazing invention.

The Longitude Prize
by Joan Dash

Although John Harrison's invention was truly revolutionary, the Board of Longitude refused to recognize him for more than 30 years. Determined to favor the lunar system of determining longitude and not wanting to award the prize to a self-educated man with no credentials, they threw many obstacles in his way.

Dramatic accounts of life at sea, the explorers who braved them, and the political machinations of the time form the backdrop of this riveting book. Enhanced by Dusan Petricic's clever drawings, Harrison's story is one of struggle, persistence and stubbornness in the face of prevailing odds.

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