With over two-thirds of the globe covered by water, the ability to navigate safely and quickly across the oceans has been crucial throughout human history. As seafarers attempted longer and longer voyages from the sixteenth century onwards in search of profit and new lands, the tools of navigation became ever more sophisticated. The development of instruments over the last five hundred years has seen some revolutionary changes, spurred on by the threat of disaster at sea and the possibility of huge rewards from successful voyages. As this book shows, the solution of the infamous longitude problem, the extraordinary impact of satellite positioning and other advances in navigation have successfully brought together seafarers, artisans and scientists in search of better ways of getting from A to B and back again.
Richard Dunn joined Royal Museums Greenwich in 2004 as Curator of the History of Navigation, becoming Senior Curator for the History of Science in 2011. Between 2010 and 2015 he was part of a major research project on the British Board of Longitude in collaboration with the University of Cambridge. He has given talks and published widely on the history of navigation and its instruments, including The Telescope: A Short History (2009) and Finding Longitude: How Ships, Clocks and Stars Helped Solve the Longitude Problem (2014, with Rebekah Higgitt). He was also lead curator for a major exhibition, Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude, which was shown at Royal Museums Greenwich in 2014 and is now on an international tour.