HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Science » Science (Group) » Opinion: How the Prime Me...

Sun May 26, 2013, 04:31 PM

Opinion: How the Prime Meridian Changed the World





Indeed, before the Guide and Almanac, the world had a deadly longitude problem. Navigation at sea was extremely difficult, resulting in countless disasters and disappearances over the centuries because ships' captains simply could not figure out where they were.

For instance, on Oct. 22, 1707, more than 1,400 British sailors died because a storm caused the fleet's navigators to lose their location; then the navigators and naval officers mistook the craggy archipelago on which the fleet wrecked for the western entrance to the English Channel.


But by the spring of 1763, after decades of hardscrabble observations and calculations, astronomers had finally cracked the code to predict the moon's meandering path across the sky. No mere academic exercise, this breakthrough would enable mariners around the world to locate their longitude at sea—turning the moon into the world's first global positioning satellite.

Though he was not the first scientist who attempted to resolve the longitude issue, Maskelyne was the first to put forward a practical solution, one that wound up being so good it effectively enshrined Greenwich as the prime meridian for the entire world, says Rebekah Higgitt, curator of history of science and technology at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Thus he was, she says, "very central to creating Greenwich as it has come to be known.



http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/05/130526-astronomy-nautical-navigation-space-longitude-moon-science/

3 replies, 1261 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 3 replies Author Time Post
Reply Opinion: How the Prime Meridian Changed the World (Original post)
ismnotwasm May 2013 OP
pkdu May 2013 #1
pokerfan May 2013 #2
ismnotwasm May 2013 #3

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 04:42 PM

1. Awesome book on the topic

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to pkdu (Reply #1)

Sun May 26, 2013, 05:56 PM

2. Also a TV series

Longitude is a 2000 TV drama produced by Granada Productions and the A&E Network for Channel 4, first broadcast in 2000 in the UK on Channel 4 and the US on A&E. It is an adaptation of the 1997 book of the same title by Dava Sobel. It was written and directed by Charles Sturridge and stars Michael Gambon as clockmaker John Harrison (1693–1776) and Jeremy Irons as horologist Rupert Gould (1890–1948).


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 06:47 PM

3. Thanks to both of you

I'm more of a book reader, but the show also sounds terrific

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread