Time and Time Again: Determination of Longitude at Sea in the 17th Century

Time and Time Again: Determination of Longitude at Sea in the 17th Century

Event Name Time and Time Again: Determination of Longitude at Sea in the 17th Century
Start Date 3 Apr 2018 1:00 pm
End Date 3 Apr 2018 2:00 pm
Duration 1 hour
Description

Time and Time Again: Determination of Longitude at Sea in the 17th
Century

Location: 14 Sir Christopher Ondatjee Avenue (E7B) T5

Richard de Grijs (Macquarie University)

The Scientific Revolution sweeping through 17th-century Europe
led to unprecedented intellectual and scientific insights and
high-profile technological developments. Combined with a significant
worldwide increase in naval commerce, solving the intractable
"longitude problem" became an ever more urgent requirement for the
continent’s main sea-faring nations. Historical accounts of these
efforts often focus almost exclusively on John Harrison’s role in 18th
Century Britain. Here, we start instead from Galileo Galilei’s
late-16th Century development of an accurate pendulum clock, which was
first achieved in practice in the mid-17th Century by Christiaan
Huygens in the Dutch Republic. The open, tolerant and transparent
conditions in the 17th Century Dutch Republic allowed the nation to
play a pivotal role in the international network of humanists and
scholars before and during the "scientific revolution." The primary
means of communication among the educated intellectuals consisted of a
prolific exchange of letters, which form the basis of this talk. This
is a fascinating period in the history of science that is not well
covered elsewhere and which, in particular, allows us to explore the
characters of the scientists involved.

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