Earth's Magnetism in the Age of Sail
From about 1600 to 1800 scientists and mariners made increasingly sophisticated attempts to understand the earth's magnetic field and use it in navigation. Europeans had long understood the difference between magnetic and true north, but why did it vary as one traversed the sea? Could this variation be used to pinpoint longitude? Drawing on a wealth of unpublished sources—including manuals, treatises, sailing directions, and logbooks in a half-dozen languages—A. R. T. Jonkers explores these early efforts both for what they reveal about the history of science and navigation and as a unique record of the actual changes in the earth's magnetic field. The result, a masterful combination of science and history, will appeal to a broad audience of specialists as well as general readers.
About the Author
A. R. T. Jonkers is University Fellow in the department of earth sciences at the University of Liverpool.
"A fascinating tale at the interface of geophysics, maritime history, and the history of science... A remarkable blend of scientific and historical scholarship."
"This book illuminates a dark corner of history and science from a unique and well-grounded perspective. By choosing to examine the natural phenomenon of Earth's magnetism within a historical context, A. R. T. Jonkers has found a way to lend both interest and accessibility to what otherwise could be an esoteric topic. Engaging, highly readable, and well written with sound scholarship, Earth's Magnetism in the Age of Sail is a valuable and original contribution to the history of science."
"Jonkers has provided a truly interdisciplinary study that will be accessible to scientists as well as historians."
"In this ambitious work, the author sets out to rescue from obscurity the thousands of measurements of magnetic declination made by European sailors in the early modern period... The monumental contribution of information and insight brought by this study... will bear fruit well into the future."
"This book is an exceptional achievement. A superb study at the interface of geophysics, maritime history, and the history of ideas. Jonkers has dared to take on the exacting task of crossing the boundaries between the natural sciences and the humanities, and he has succeeded brilliantly."
"This well-written and well-documented book is highly enjoyable... a historical treasure."
Other Titles in SCIENCE / History
Other Titles in History of science