NAVIGATION -- Long before GPS, Google Earth, and global transit, humans traveled vast distances using only environmental clues and simple instruments.
John Huth, Harvard physics professor and author of The Lost Art of Finding Our Way, says we can still do it.
Anyone who ventures outdoors should at least check out this book and ponder the consequences of allowing modern technology to substitute for our innate capacity to find our way.
- The Vikings navigated using the sunstone to detect polarization of sunlight.
- Arab traders learned to read the wind for direction.
- Pacific Islanders used underwater lightning and “read” waves to guide their explorations.
Even today, careful observation of the sun and moon, tides and ocean currents, moss on trees, weather and atmospheric effects can be all we need to find our way.
- Read an excerpt from The Lost Art of Finding Our Way in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription or site license req’d)
- Watch the “trailer” for Harvard University’s “Science of the Physical Universe 26: Primitive Navigation,” a course that John Huth designed—and on which this book is based