The Tide Crusade
The Tide Crusade
This chapter examines the multinational tidal experiments of 1834 and 1835 to demonstrate the collaborative nature of research in physical astronomy. In particular, it highlights the collaboration between the British Admiralty and science, between departments within the Royal Navy and institutions in British science, and between the elite theorists in Britain and the numerous scientific servicemen and commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the Royal Navy. John William Lubbock and earlier researchers viewed the tides temporally; they worked with long-term observations that corresponded with the ancient and everlasting motions of the heavens. William Whewell, by contrast, viewed the tides spatially, as a problem to be solved through expansive geographical space rather than extensive astronomical time. Whewell advanced tidology as a prototypical spatial science by co-opting the methods of Alexander von Humboldt and applying them through the most pervasive military institution in the world, the British Admiralty. His systematizing effort involved networks of observers stationed around the globe and set the stage for further involvement of the Admiralty in large-scale geophysical initiatives.
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