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Mystery Class Update: March 23, 2001

Today's Report Includes:

Got Latitude?
This week, we've got the first clues from the secret Mystery Classes themselves! Special thanks to the 10 secret Mystery Sites around the world (shhh, you know who you are). They all worked very hard preparing their clues for you.

Over the next four weeks, they'll send more clues every week to help you with your search. Now that you've estimated approximate longitude with GMT, all you need to know is the latitude of each place and you're there! Good luck to you all!

Did you find the GMT calculations challenging last week? You're not alone. Imagine what it must have been like for the man who solved the "Longitude Problem" for the very first time! Read the fascinating TRUE story of how one man, an English clockmaker, solved this mystery back in the 1700's.

Clues Calendar
We'll be sending new clues every week for the next four weeks, to help you try to determine each secret Mystery Class location by the April 27 deadline. Here are some important Mystery Class dates for the coming weeks:
  • March 30, April 6, 13 & 20: New clues from the Mystery Sites given each week

  • April 27: Deadline for Answers

  • May 4: Mystery Sites Revealed!

  • May 11: Meet the Mystery Sites

Who Want(ed) to be a Millionaire? The 1714 Longitude Contest

"During the great ages of exploration, 'the longitude problem' was the gravest of scientific challenges. Lacking the ability to determine their longitude, sailors were literally lost at seas as soon as they lost sight of land. Ships ran aground on rocky shores, those traveling well-known routes were easy prey to pirates.

"In 1714, England's Parliament offered a huge reward to anyone whose method of measuring longitude could be proven successful. (The prize was worth several million dollars in today's currency.) The scientific establishment--from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton--had mapped the heavens, in its certainty of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man dared to imagine a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at seas, something no clock had been able to do on land. And the race was on...."

Excerpted from the book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. By Dava Sobel, Penguin Books, 1995.

Learn about John Harrison, an English clockmaker, who solved the Longitude Problem by developing a clock that would keep precise time at sea. With that clock, sailors could know what time it was on board and at home when a single event took place on board (i.e. when the sun reached its highest point in the sky). And by knowing the difference in hours and minutes between the two times, they could then calculate their longitude, much like you did last week with the GMT times.

For more information about this important scientific discovery, visit these resources:

  • In the book: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, by Dava Sobel (Penquin Books 1995);

  • NOVA Online: Longitude and Navigation information including Teacher's Guide, resources, secrets of ancient navigators and more!

  • NOVA video: "Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude" (call 1-800-255-9424).

This Week's Sunrise/Sunset Times
Remember, the secret Mystery sites recorded their times last Monday, the same day you collected your own local sunrise/sunset data.

Journey North Mystery Class

Sunrise/Sunset Data

Data For: Monday, March 19, 2001


































** MC #5 and #7 have experienced a one hour adjustment to their times since last week, but remember that this adjustment will NOT affect the photoperiod. Due to daylight savings time starting or ending in the coming weeks, you may see one hour changes at other locations. Again, remember that these changes will not affect the photoperiod. The sun stays up the same amount of time regardless of what time we say it is.

* Note: Military time is usually expressed without any punctuation. We have used a ":" between the hours and minutes for clarity.)

CLUES From Your Mystery Friends
Mystery Class:

MC #1: "Our climate is basically maritime with fairly mild winters and summers that get to be as hot as 33 C. We fall within both the Mediterranean and Atlantic climate zones."

MC #2: "Our main agricultural products are rubber, palm oil and rice."

MC #3 "As in neighbour countries, our national beverage (apart from all the colas!) is an herbal tea prepared inside a hollowed pumpkin and sipped hot with the aid of a thin metal tube, usually made of silver. Together with one of our neighbouring countries, we are known for our typical music: the tango."

MC #4: "This country has over 9,000 kilometers of coastline."

MC #5: "The place that I live doesn't belong to anyone. It isn't in a state, county, or city."

MC #6: "Four nations share our kingdom."

MC #7 "In the north of our country there are palm trees, while in the south there are glaciers. Much of our country is temperate. Depending on your reference source, our country is approximately 268,676 square kilometres (103,736 square miles)."

MC #8 "It never snows here. Summer lasts from mid-April to September. And October through December is usually sunny, dry and cool. It can be really humid here and can get to more than 35 degrees Celsius and we get typhoons."

MC #9 "The Elevation of our country varies from approximately 100 meters to over 6000 meters."

MC #10 "Place a slice of duck in a thin pancake, add some onion or cucumber and some plum sauce and you will be right at home. Going out to eat? Don't worry, the local restaurant will give you kuaizi to use instead of a knife and fork."

Teacher Tip: Graphing Another Perspective of Photoperiod
For an interesting and different picture of changing photoperiods, teacher Susan Fineman also has her students graph the local sunrise and sunset times on a separate graph. By darkening the space before the sunrise time and after the sunset time, the "light" space that remains is very revealing!

The Next Mystery Class Update Will be Posted on March 30, 2001

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