Thursday, March 24, 2011

Longitude

English clockmaker John Harrison was born March 24, 1693.  Harrison solved a problem that mariners had faced since the beginning of sea-travel; being able to establish an east-west, or longitudinal position.  Dava Sobel's book on the topic is worth the read.  Sir Walter Scott uses the term longitude to add some color to "The Pirate":

'Amongst others, the little bard, who had now got next to our friend Mordaunt Mertoun, evinced a positive determination to commence and conclude, in all its longitude and latitude, the story of his introduction to glorious John Dryden; and Triptolemus Yellowley, as his spirits arose, shaking off a feeling of involuntary awe, with which he was impressed by the opulence indicated in all he saw around him, as well as by the respect paid to Magnus Troil by the assembled guests, began to broach, to the astonished and somewhat offended Udaller, some of those projects for ameliorating the islands, which he had boasted of to his fellow travellers upon their journey of the morning...'

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