The True Story of the World’s First Scientific Expedition
By Nicholas Crane
Latitude is a gloriously exciting tale of adventure and scientific discovery that has never been told before.
Crane, the former president of the Royal Geographic Society, documents the remarkable expedition undertaken by a group of twelve European adventurer-scientists in the mid-eighteenth century. The team spent years in South America, scaling volcanoes and traversing jungles before they achieved their goal of establishing the exact shape of the Earth by measuring the length of 1 degree latitude at the equator.
Their endeavors were not limited to this one achievement. Not only did their discovery open up the possibility for safe, accurate navigation across the seas, they also discovered rubber and quinine. With a narrative that reads like it was taken from the script of an adventure movie, Nicholas Crane brings to life a narrative that is a timely reminder of how scientific discovery can change the world and our future.
By knowing the shape of the earth we can create maps, survive the oceans, navigate the skies, and travel across the globe. Without latitude, maps and navigation wouldn’t be accurate, lives would have been lost, and exact locations of cities and rivers would never be known. After ten grueling years in search of a magic number, the survivors returned to Europe with their historical discovery that fueled the public’s interest in science.
Twenty-five years ago, Dava Sobel’s bestselling Longitude was a global publishing phenomenon, yet it told only one half of the story. With Latitude, this cornerstone piece of our shared history is now complete with this tale of a trip that changed the course of human civilization.
Filled with raw excitement and danger, Latitude brings the challenges that faced these explorer-scientists to vivid life.
Pegasus Books (October 5, 2021) | 280 pages| 9781643137957