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September 15, 2018

I don't think it would come as a surprise to anyone to discover that I think science is important. I wrote about some historical science in Australasian Science magazine.

A brief history of some science

There were several significant events of a scientific nature which contributed to Arthur Phillip raising the flag in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788. (For obvious personal reasons, I'm disappointed that I can't include Nathaniel Bowditch's recalculation of navigation tables but he didn't publish his work until after 1800.)

Science was the reason that James Cook was in this part of the world in 1770. The purpose of his trip was to observe the transit of Venus across the sun on June 3, 1769. By comparing the measurements made at Tahiti with those made at Hudson Bay in Canada and North Cape in Norway it was possible to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun (the Astronomical Unit) with some accuracy.

Following the transit, Cook was instructed to search for the postulated great southern land. After mapping New Zealand and most of the east coast of Australia, Cook sailed to Batavia (now Jakarta), where a third of the people on board the Endeavour died of malaria.

Read the rest of this history lesson here.


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