Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His TimeRead about the other books on the list.
by Dava Sobel
The stars could tell early mariners how far they were from the equator, but longitude--the key second component to mapping one's position on the globe--remained out of reach for thousands of years. Sailors were literally lost at sea, navigating by wit and hard-earned knowledge in what they hoped was their intended direction. In response to a reward offered by Parliament, inventor John Harrison defied the established scientific community and imagined a clock that would withstand pitch and roll, temperature and humidity, and keep precise time at sea. This device, in concert with celestial observation, allowed sailors to accurately pinpoint their location on maps and explore the world with a heretofore unprecedented precision. An enthralling read about the courage to pursue your inspiration and change the world.
Also see Dava Sobel's five best list of books which record extraordinary journeys of discovery.