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    Re: Nevil Maskelyne.
    From: Fred Hebard
    Date: 2004 Jul 17, 17:27 -0400

    Edwin Danson, in his excellent book, "Drawing the Line, How Mason and
    Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Boundary in America," John Wiley, NY
    2001, talked about this issue of Maskelyne vs Harrison.  First, I might
    comment that Danson's book would have benefitted greatly from a good
    editor, although it certainly is readable enough.
    
    Danson states that Maskelyne was appointed by the Board of Longitude
    (Prize) to test Harrison's H3.  "On the voyage out, Maskelyne had
    experimented with Mayer's latest lunar tables, was delighted with the
    results, and let everyone in Brigetown [Barbados] know it, much to
    young Harrison's anger."  "Young Harrison" was John Harrison's son,
    William.
    
    Thus, essentially, both methods ironically came to fruition at exactly
    the same moment, although Harrison's H3 needed to be simplified to be
    constructed at affordable prices.  Maskelyne was promoting lunars and
    Harrison his "watch."  Maskelyne definitely was in a position of
    conflict of interest.
    
    I also think that Sobel makes a very good case that Maskelyne indeed
    thwarted Harrison from receiving the prize, although he and Mayer also
    should have received it, clearly.  Since Sobel was writing about
    Harrison, she takes his side, which very clearly was in opposition to
    Maskelyne.  That Harrison intensely resented Maskelyne is clear from
    Danson's statement about "young Harrison's anger."
    
    What's really needed is an equally skillful biography of Maskelyne, to
    show his accomplishments.  I might note that Sobel very much
    appreciated Maskelyne's contribution, noting the use of lunars to rate
    chronometers, which persisted up to the time of radio, although less so
    as ships started carrying two.
    
    I might say I regret taking Frank Reed's side in this issue since Frank
    so tenaciously clung to the hypothesis that Slocum took but one lunar,
    whereas Slocum almost certainly was bragging about finding a fault in
    his tables, which would have been an accomplishment of much pride,
    worthy of note, and easily remembered, as opposed to a humdrum mention
    of a yet another lunar.
    
    Fred Hebard
    
    
    

       
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