A pair of weeks in the past I picked up an attention-grabbing e-book at my native library. It’s titled The Way of a Ship and it follows the journey of Benjamin Lundy as he sails round Cape Horn in 1885 in a single of the final square-rigged business crusing boats. 

The Way of a Ship is full of attention-grabbing info about life on a 4 mast crusing vessel within the late 19th Century. It’s additionally full of details about navigational practices utilized by captains to attempt to preserve a course and never run aground. And early within the e-book there’s a nice rationalization of why crusing vessels have been used for transporting coal around the globe when steam-powered ships have been already in service. As I learn by way of these explanations I could not assist however assume of a record of questions primarily based on the e-book, and 19th Century crusing basically, that could possibly be introduced into a arithmetic class. In no explicit order I’ve listed these questions beneath. 

  • Why have been crusing ships used to move coal if steam engine-powered ships (that burn coal) have been obtainable?
  • How environment friendly does a steam engine should be so as to make have the ability to carry sufficient coal to cross the Atlantic ocean whereas additionally with the ability to transport further cargo? (Answer is within the e-book. Or electronic mail me if you wish to know). 
  • What is the equal land distance of one minute of latitude?
  • Why was it tougher to calculate longitude than latitude?
  • How did ship captains account for the distinction between magnetic north and true north?
  • How was pace calculated? What’s the distinction between 1 knot/hour and 1 mile/hour?
  • If a late 19th Century business crusing vessel needed to cowl 300 nautical miles in a day, how robust of a tailwind wouldn’t it want? 
  • Why was it inexpensive for retailers to retailer coal on crusing vessels than in warehouses on shores?

All of these questions have a number of doable solutions. The level is to get college students fascinated by how arithmetic was utilized in business crusing and remains to be utilized in crusing at this time. It’s additionally enjoyable for historical past academics (as I used to be for years) to deliver some arithmetic in a historical past lesson. 

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