This morning we caught a flight out of Da Nang to Hanoi and then back to Taiwan. There's a new job waiting and a new life. The girls had such fun in Vietnam. I have to say, it was a gas!
One last Vietnam memory: While riding bicycles through rice fields and chasing my girls through traditional markets, I came upon this little history paperback I rolled up and stuck in my back pocket and at night I would sit on the balcony overlooking the South China Sea and read by candle light. The subject concerned the various mathematical geniuses all vying to claim the Longitude Prize of 1714.
You see, about three hundred years ago, almost everyone was a sailor or impacted mightily by the sea. Ships crashed. Men were lost. Good and merchandise sunk to the bottom of the ocean. All because men had no accurate way of measuring a ship’s true location. Latitude was easy. One could measure the height of the sun at noon or the height of the North Star above the horizon at night. This showed how far north or south of the equator a ship was. But longitude needed time. Each day, as the earth rotates, it spins eastward 360 degrees or 15 degrees per hour. At noon, if one had a fixed location, a home port, the distance east or west could be calculated.
But how could time be bottled? And what was this fixed port? There were no clocks stout enough to handle the rigors of a sea voyage and certainly no clock accurate enough. Thus, the British Parliament passed The Longitude Act, promising to pay 20,000 pounds of sterling (roughly 12 million dollars) to anyone who could create a “useful and practical method of measuring longitude.”