Return to media reviews
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
Longitude is a fascinating tale about navigation: the invention that enabled us to determining longitude accurately. John Harrison, an amateur clockmaker, was convinced that he could develop a clock that was accurate enough to be used to measure longitude. Before this, navigation was a massive risk to the British Empire, and limited their ability to sail open waters confidently.
Sobel stays light on technical details, and focuses on the story of this innovation. Epistemic overconfidence, skewed scientific incentives, and theft of secrets — this has it all. It's an enjoyable read.
This is a part of my Media Diet. Learn more about this project here.