Literally Geeky discussion

Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
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Longitude > Longitude - Your Thoughts

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message 1: by Ez, The God of Catan (last edited Jul 28, 2014 05:15PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
Hey folks,

This is the first non-fiction pick for the book club, and I appreciate it might not immediately seem like everyone's cup of tea.

The story of 'Longitude' is the tale of an eccentric, a lone scientist, a man against the establishment and the story of a paradigm shift. The world would never be the same again.

Let's here your thoughts. All comments welcome.

message 2: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah (adventgeekgirl) | 5 comments I'm a middle school Literacy teacher who feels so stifled by the U.S.'s current push for kids to read more and more non-fiction (or practical reading) than fiction that I am smothered during the school year by non-fiction reading. Plus my other book group has only been reading non-fiction since I joined them. It must be something about me joining clubs that compels them to want to read non-fiction.

With that minor whinge out of the way, it does look like an intriguing and informative read. I'm wondering if all the hyped summaries and reviews really reflect how engaging it will be to read. I've added it to my to-read, but I'm going to go back into the Literally Geeky stacks and catch up on some of the fictional offerings that really revved my reader engine.

message 3: by Ez, The God of Catan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
Oooh, bad timing indeed.

I picked Longitude to tie in with the 300 year anniversary of the Longitude Act, the resurrection of the Longitude Committee and its offer of a £10 million prize, open to anyone, to help tackle one of the great issues of our time - the public voted for antimicrobial resistance.

10 million for research may not seem like a lot, and the prize isn't without controversy...

... but, anything that gets science a bit of public attention is fine by me.

If you're looking for a different read, I'd recommend Ocean at the End of the Lane from our bookshelf.

message 4: by Red (last edited Aug 05, 2014 03:56AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Red Dog (red_dog) | 65 comments Yup, as mentioned during the Twitter discussion of the last Literally Geeky, this is actually a book I've physically had on my shelf for years (nestled between Norah Chadwick's The Celts and Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English People), but never read, so woot! Enjoying it so far, not least because of some of the lovely writing in it:

" Time is to clock as mind is to brain. The clock or watch somehow contains the time. And yet time refuses to be bottled up like a genie stuffed in a lamp. Whether it flows as sand or turns on wheels within wheels, time escapes irretrievably, while we watch. Even when the bulbs of the hourglass shatter, when darkness withholds the shadow from the sundial, when the main-spring winds down so far that the clock hands hold still as death, time itself keeps on. The most we can hope a watch to do is mark that progress. And since time sets its own tempo, like a heartbeat or an ebb tide, timepieces don't really keep time. They just keep up with it, if they're able."

Beth | 41 comments Having recently graduated from college with a diploma in Geographic Information Systems, I ask myself "Why haven't I read this yet?"

Now that I am working and not overly fond of my employer, the question becomes "Do I want to read something work related for fun?"

Since the library is not producing its sole copy for me in a timely fashion, I will be watching the hangout to see what you guys have to say.

message 6: by Ez, The God of Catan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
Any Sharpe fans here? What I like about this book is the unabashed class warfare; John Harrison is portrayed as the quintessential working class hero, and just like Sharpe he's from Yorkshire, so you can imagine him swaggering into the Longitude board and calling them all "fat bastards" or summat.

Obviously that's an over simplification, but if Longitude was to be made into another film (it's already been a TV movie), Harrison would be played by Sean Bean, he'd run Maskelyne through with a sabre... and probably die. Maybe Sir Issac Newton would cosh him on the bonce or something.

message 7: by Red (new) - rated it 3 stars

Red Dog (red_dog) | 65 comments I actually thought more could have been made of the class angle in the book, but perhaps that wouldn't have gone down well with an international audience (what with Sobel being American too). I also felt that the books stated "theme" of 'one man against the establishment' was a bit weak, given that Harrison clearly had the support of his family and friends throughout his career, but again, maybe that plays better with the popular science market than the more interesting (to me, at least) ins and outs of the engineering and the politics involved...?

Beth | 41 comments Entertaining hangout, as always :)

Based on your comments, I'm not going to rush out and buy the book. When I finally get my turn with the public library's copy, I'll take a look. I'm a bit curious to know if it is super light on geospatial concepts or if that was just Aaron not knowing about latitude, longitude and great circles.

Bonus points to Donovan for including his coordinates on the technically doomed hangout.

message 9: by Ez, The God of Catan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
You can track Donovan down and kill him now.

Aaron (trippdigital) | 170 comments Mod
I'm just stupid.

message 11: by Lara, Not Laura (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lara (larasaurus) | 109 comments Mod
Just a couple more thoughts about Longitude, a cracking headache and being grumpy with Google made me a bit rubbish last night.

Overall, not my cup of tea. I like non-fiction, but this didn't have nearly enough detail. I know that was intentional, but it made a topic I'd normally be very interested in a bit... dull, I suppose. I wasn't interested in how glorious Harrison's skin looked in one of his portraits, I wanted some science.

That being said, it is non-fiction, and she's obviously a good writer, so I found it difficult to critique, especially not knowing very much about the subject. However, if I have to do a lot of research after reading a book just to find out some basic facts, well... it didn't do its job.

And Aaron, it wasn't just you. I got them mixed up as well.

message 12: by Donovan (new) - added it

Donovan Sotam (DSotam) | 64 comments Mod
I think it wasn't that bad of a book and the science part is clear, at least for me it was. My main problem was the the intrigue (which covers half of the book, roughly). Which gives it a feeling of a romance book, and this IMO is distracting and bad in a non-fiction book. Hence the 3,5 stars.

You should still give it a read, if you find it on your library or a cheap copy.

@Ez and @Beth I now Portugal isn't that big, but there's still a lot of ground to cover to track me down and if anyone does find me, there's usually tea in the cupboards and boardgames. Do bring your own clothes, though.

message 13: by Ez, The God of Catan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ez (thevapidwench) | 287 comments Mod
There's a public Royal Society lecture on Longitude on Sept 25th. Tickets are £4, but don't worry if you can't go. There's bound to be a podcast too.

message 14: by Beth (last edited Sep 13, 2014 01:20PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Beth | 41 comments Off to a slow start with this one. Page 3 and I'm already wandering off To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps That Changed the World and checking out Ptolemy's map.

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