A Very Short Introduction
3. A mathematical science
The science of finding latitude
science . This is because its meaning and reference, as we understand them, became current only in the mid-19th century. William Whewell is credited with inventing the word scientist in 1833. The historian’s problem, then, is the discomfort of trying often to write the history of something that did not exist, at least nominally, for people at the time.
4. Dead reckoning, longitude, and time
Latitude sailing and dead reckoning
What was the state of the mathematical science of navigation at the end of the 17th century? Latitude could be found, weather permitting, using instruments adapted from astronomy and some basic geometry applied to an elementary knowledge of the heavens. A geometrical projection for charts accommodated to the needs of seamen was known, even if not always used, and the calculations it imposed on plotting positions and courses had been explained and made accessible through the design of new instruments. The vagaries of the magnetic compass were better appreciated,
5. The zenith of the mathematical seaman
Chronometers, sextants, or both?
deck watch and a pocket chronometer would become blurred. In fact what happened was that theorists and practitioners found other ways to combine chronometer and sextant. Position would still be stated as a latitude and a longitude but the two need not be found in separate and distinct operations.