Measure of All Things The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World

ISBN-10: 0743216768
ISBN-13: 9780743216760
Edition: 2003
Authors: Ken Alder
List price: $18.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: In June 1792, amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, two intrepid astronomers set out in opposite directions on an extraordinary journey. Starting in Paris, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre would make his way north to Dunkirk, while  More...

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Book details

List price: $18.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 10/1/2003
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 448
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.50" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

In June 1792, amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, two intrepid astronomers set out in opposite directions on an extraordinary journey. Starting in Paris, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre would make his way north to Dunkirk, while Pierre-Francois-Andre Mechain voyaged south to Barcelona. Their mission was to measure the world, and their findings would help define the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance between the pole and the equator -- a standard that would be used "for all people, for all time."The Measure of All Thingsis the astonishing tale of one of history's greatest scientific adventures. Yet behind the public triumph of the metric system lies a secret error, one that is perpetuated in every subsequent definition of the meter. As acclaimed historian and novelist Ken Alder discovered through his research, there were only two people on the planet who knew the full extent of this error: Delambre and Mechain themselves.By turns a science history, detective tale, and human drama,The Measure of All Thingsdescribes a quest that succeeded as it failed -- and continues to enlighten and inspire to this day.

Dramatis Personae
Prologue
The North-Going Astronomer
The South-Going Astronomer
The Metric of Revolution
The Castle of Mont-Jouy
A Calculating People
Fear of France
Convergence
Triangulation
The Empire of Science
The Broken Arc
Mechain's Mistake, Delambre's Peace
The Metered Globe
Epilogue: The Shape of Our World
Note on Measures
Note on Sources
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

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