Penn State

Paige Andrew - Maps Cataloging Librarian, Penn State University Park

Book Title: The Illustrated Longitude, the True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Author: Sobel, Dava and William J.H. Andrewes

Book Description:

One of the major problems for centuries was the attempt to figure out distances and accurately and safely travel across the oceans, which had impacts on discovering new lands during the Age of Discovery, on trade between the old world and the new, and most importantly being able to accurately tell time. Time effects nearly every aspect of our lives, and thus solving the mystery of the "longitude" part of the longitude and latitude grid system helped usher in our modern era, which is considered the richest in history. Since the core part of my work is to describe maps by creating records for our online catalog that our patrons can use to discover what we have in our cartographic collections (which, by the way, is one of the largest such research-level collections in the country), I found this book to be fascinating reading. It brings together scientific analysis, travel issues in history, and discovery in one place, as told in a moving story that answered some of my own "why" questions as they relate to the differences found in types of maps. I also have a bit of wanderlust in me, probably due to my being raised an Army brat, and so any story of travel and discovery brings back memories of my own personal journeys growing up. I still to this day love to get in the car and just drive to see "what is out there" as well as to visit places I've been.


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