Introduction: The Littoral in Science and History

in Tides of History

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780226709321
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226709338 | DOI:
Introduction: The Littoral in Science and History

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In the first half of the nineteenth century, the British learned to manage the oceans; in the second half, they ruled over large portions of the oceans' rims. Extending their reconnaissance from the littoral outward, the British Admiralty, maritime community, and scientific elite collaborated to bring order to the world's seas, estuaries, and rivers. Rather than a history of tidal theory, this book is a history of British scientific culture during the transition from industrialization to empire, when understanding the sea became important politically, economically, and strategically. The history of tidal research in Britain also highlights the role of science in projecting power to distant lands, the essence of nineteenth-century imperialism. This book analyzes the legal claim made by Joseph Foss Dessiou against the proprietors of the Nautical Almanac and discusses the multinational tidal experiments of 1834 and 1835 to demonstrate the collaborative nature of research in physical astronomy. It also discusses William Whewell's approach to the study of the tides as a spatial science.

Keywords: oceans; littoral; tidal theory; William Whewell; science; British Admiralty; imperialism; Joseph Foss Dessiou; physical astronomy; Nautical Almanac

Chapter.  6724 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental History

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