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Public Lecture by Dava Sobel: The Illustrated Longitude

Tuesday, 20 May, 2014 - 18:30 to Tuesday, 20 May, 2014 - 20:30
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: History and Philosophy of Sciences
U-residence, Generaal Jacqueslaan 271, 1050 Brussels
+32 (0)2 619 22 18

Until the 18th Century 'the longitude problem' was one of the biggest dilemmas sailors had been faced with for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, they were literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. One man, John Harrison, in complete opposition to the scientific community, dared to imagine a mechanical solution: a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had ever been able to do on land.

Longitude (1995) is a book by Dava Sobel. In 1997 it won the British Book of the Year award. The book was dramatized in 2000, starring a.o. Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon. The Illustrated Longitude was published in 1998, with 180 images selected and captioned by co-author William J.H. Andrewes.


  • 18.30-19.00: Registration
  • 19.00-19.15: Introduction by Jean Paul Van Bendegem
  • 19.15-20.00: Public lecture by Dava Sobel: The Illustrated Longitude  In this lecture, science writer Dava Sobel will tell the story of a scientific quest and of John Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper, known today as the chronometer. Numerous illustrations will support the story, which is also a fascinating history of astronomy, navigation, and clockmaking, and opens a new window on our world.  
  • 20.00-20.30: Q&A
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