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    Re: Dava Sobel
    From: Wolfgang K�berer
    Date: 2006 May 1, 09:54 +0200

    I completely agree with you.
    Dava Sobel
    1) does not know what she is writing about when writing about the practice
    of lunar distances and
    2) she neglected to have somebody who has sufficient knowledge check her
    Alas, that seems to be common practice - there is for instance a "History of
    Navigation" published a Mr. Pohl in Germany with many fine pictures but full
    of gross factual mistakes - but I still don't want to resign to that kind of
    Just another example from Sobel:
    p.91 (New York 1995 edition): "...a good navigator could now stand on the
    deck of his ship and measure the lunar distances. (Actually, many of the
    more careful navigators sat, the better to steady themselves, and the real
    sticklers lay down flat on their backs.)"
    That could really improve the precision of the observation - provided the
    ship was motionless in dock. By the way, Jacques Besson in 1567 already
    proposed a gimballed chair for making observations on board of a ship which
    did not make it into shipboard practice for obvious reasons.
    And another example:
    (p.92) "Hadley's quadrant capitalized on the work of astronomers,..."
    That is pure nonsense: it could only capitalize on the progress made in
    instrument building and craftmanship. But it just sounds nice.
    p. 96: "...a German mapmaker, Tobias Mayer,...worked in Nuremberg..."
    To call Mayer a mapmaker is about the same as calling Churchill a writer: he
    has done that, too, but his real profession and claim to fame lies
    elsewhere: Mayer was at the time professor for physics, geography and
    astronomy in G?ttingen. That would have been easy to look up, but for Sobel
    he obviously was on Maskelyne's side and therefore may not have merited a
    careful checking of facts.
    Regards, Wolfgang
    -----Urspr?ngliche Nachricht-----
    Von: Navigation Mailing List
    [mailto:NAVIGATION-L@LISTSERV.WEBKAHUNA.COM]Im Auftrag von George
    Gesendet: Sonntag, 30. April 2006 21:44
    Betreff: Re: Dava Sobel
    She may perhaps be forgiven for confusing parallax with dip, but not for
    failing to have the text checked over by someone who
    understood those things.
    What about page 91-
    "As a bonus, Hadley's quadrant boasted its own built-in artificial horizon
    when the real horizon disappeared in darkness or in fog."
    If only...
    contact George Huxtable at george@huxtable.u-net.com
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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