Keeping time has been a difficult problem for... well, as long as we've tried keeping time. For an interesting historical account on past difficulties, you might check out the book "Longitude" .
"Imagine starting something now, this year, that you felt you were pretty good at, having won some student awards, devoting yourself to it full time…and then getting rejected over and over until 2019."
This reminds me of the "Story of Longitude" where John Harrison spent decades of his life in search of his prize (the first "X-Prize"?), and everyone is betting against him. How could a self-educated clockmaker beat the best minds of the day? Anyway it's a great story, which I've read a couple of times.
A few years ago when I was thinking up a name for my mobile "hobby start-up company", I took inspiration from Harrison and called my company h4labs (http://h4labs.com). His fourth clock (H4) won the prize. As a software developer, I image myself more as a craftsmen. I'm taking one idea and I'm going to refine it over several years. Hopefully, by my major forth version, I'll have something really worthwhile.
Btw, here's the book: http://www.amazon.com/Longitude-Genius-Greatest-Scientific-P...
After losing almost 2,000 sailors and 4 Navy ships in an accident attributed to poor navigation, the British government offered the Longitude Prize - which was worth millions of dollars in todays money.
From Gallileo and his method of timekeeping by tracking the moons of Jupiter, through to John Harrison and his invention of the chronometer - which ended up winning most of the Longitude Prize - the effort that went into finding a solution had many side effects for science and the solution opened up the world to better navigation and the eventual colonization.
The entire story is chronicled in the book 'Longitude', which was a best seller in 1998. It is well worth a read. Wikipedia is also a good starting point for finding out more.
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