The Discovery of Longitude

Event Details

The Discovery of Longitude

Time: April 16, 2014 from 6:30pm to 7:45pm
Location: Simms Center for the Performing Arts, Albuquerque Academy
Street: 6400 Wyoming Blvd. NE
City/Town: Albuquerque
Website or Map:…
Phone: 505-828-3151
Event Type: free, lecture, register, in, advance
Organized By: Albuquerque Academy
Latest Activity: Apr 13, 2014

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Event Description

Early voyages of discovery were literally lost at sea, says Douglas Drumheller. PhD, until an 18th Century carpenter, John Harrison, changed the world by inventing a clock—the world’s first ship’s chronometer. 


“Christopher Columbus thought he was in the Pacific when he was actually in the Atlantic,” says Drumheller. “To find their location, these mariners needed to determine two numbers: latitude, which was easily found by sighting the Sun, and longitude, which was impossible for them to determine,” he explains. To find longitude, he says, they needed to know the time of day.


Join Drumheller on April 16 at 6:30 p.m. for a presentation about how Harrison’s chronometer earned him a fortune in prize money, when for the first time in 1761, it carried longitude across the Atlantic. Drumheller will also describe his replica of Harrison's time machine and his plan to repeat Harrison's voyage.


Drumheller received both a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California, and a doctorate in applied mechanics from Lehigh University. He has written two college textbooks on the mathematical theories of waves and holds 12 U.S. patents in the area of acoustics. His research career spans nearly 40 years at Bell Telephone Laboratories and Sandia National Laboratories.


Recently widowed from his wife of 43 years, Phylis, he lives in the mountains of New Mexico far away from the sea, but spends part of his life aboard Cot’ntop, his 45-foot trawler visiting some interesting places.

“The Discovery of Longitude” is a free event, but guests are asked to register in advance at, in order to ensure sufficient seating.

The lecture is part of Albuquerque Academy’s Spring 2014 Community Academy lecture series. Details about all of the upcoming lectures can be found at


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