Posted: January 14, 2002
MIDDLEBURY, VT - Dava Sobel, a former New York Times science reporter and author of the best-selling book "Longitude," will deliver the commencement address at Middlebury College's graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 26. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
"Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time" was first published in 1995 and is now in its 23rd hardcover printing. Translated into two-dozen foreign languages, the book became a national and international best seller. Book News called it an "engrossing story of John Harrison's (1693-1776) 40-year obsession with 'the longitude problem' which resulted in what is known today as the chronometer, a tool that finally made accurate ocean navigation possible."
The book won several literary prizes, including the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Together with William J.H. Andrewes, who introduced Sobel to the subject of "Longitude," she co-authored "The Illustrated Longitude," which was published in 1998.
According to Middlebury College President John M. McCardell Jr., Sobel's work has encouraged an awareness of science and technology amongst a wide audience. McCardell said, "We are honored to recognize her talent for demystifying what can be complex scientific subjects and making them accessible to the general public."
Sobel has been to the Middlebury campus on one previous occasion in 1997 when she gave a lecture and participated in a philosophy class.
Sobel's most recent book is "Galileo's Daughter," which was published in 1999. She based it on 124 surviving letters Galileo received from his eldest child, which she translated from the original Italian. "Galileo's Daughter" won several awards, including the 1999 Los Angeles
Prize for science and technology. The paperback edition was
the number-one New York Times nonfiction best seller for
five consecutive weeks.
In her 30 years as a science journalist, she has written for many magazines, including Audubon, Discover, Life and The New Yorker; served as a contributing editor to Harvard Magazine and Omni; and co-authored six books, including "Is Anyone Out There?" with astronomer Frank Drake.
Sobel has lectured widely and made a number of appearances on national broadcast media. A frequent guest on National Public Radio shows such as "All Things Considered," she has also appeared on NBC's "Today" and ABC's "World News Tonight."
A 1964 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Sobel attended Antioch College and the City College of New York before receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She lives in East Hampton, N.Y.