King's College London
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Imperial designs: technology and empire in the 19th century

Science as a national pursuit

Title page of book.A manual of scientific enquiry.Officers in Her Majesty’s Navy and other loyal servants of the Crown are encouraged in this work to contribute not only to Britain’s dominance of the high seas but also to the advancement of science.

The memorandum at the start of the work instructs officers that they can play a role at sea to ‘the honour and advantage of the Navy, and conduce to the general interests of science,’ and that by following the guidelines laid down here, they can also influence the national good in the pursuit of scientific attainment.

Officers are instructed that they need little specialist equipment to undertake their tasks and observations and are instructed on aspects of astronomy, magnetism, hydrography and atmospheric waves.

Fold-out maps of the oceans’ currents and drifts are included to assist their work, as are instructions on how to use a hand-held barometer. Chapters concerning medicine and ethnology are also included, demonstrating the amalgamated and broad nature of scientific enquiry at this time.

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