Longitude by Wire: Finding North America

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Univ of South Carolina Press, 2009 - 239 Seiten
At the turn of the nineteenth century, even the most experienced mariners were still risking catastrophe when navigating the North American coastline, because they lacked accurate navigational charts. The various means available to chart makers of the era to measure longitude, both celestial and terrestrial, could be off by thousands of feet -- often deadly for ships. In 1807 the U. S. Coast Survey was created to map the coast accurately and reduce the costly and deadly toll of shipwrecks, a challenge that would take the better part of a century to overcome. This is the tale of discoveries made by American scientists as they worked to solve this life-threatening quandary and develop a precise method of measuring longitude. It recounts how the successful coupling of precision chronometers with the new electrical technology represented by Samuel Morse's telegraph produced the solution to the longitude problem. The use of the telegraph by scientists of the U.S Coast Survey to communicate time signals reduced the probable error in longitudinal measurement to less than ten feet. The "American method," as it was deemed, quickly revolutionized observational astronomy and every other branch of science that depended on recording the precise time of an event.
 

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Inhalt

one Only One Hassler for
4
two Station Buttermilk
17
three Station Head and Horns
31
four The Elusive Longitude
44
seven Astronomers without Ears
88
eleven Hearts Content
165
twelve Voodoo Longitude
176
rteen Around the World in Sixty Years
192
EpilogueHertzian Waves
205
Notes
211
Bibliography
227
Index
235
About the Author
241
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