"Nicholas Nicastro brings to life one of history's greatest experiments - how the ancient Greek named Eratosthenes accurately determined the distance around the earth for the first time. In this narrative history, Nicastro takes a look at a deceptively simple but stunning achievement made by single individual millennia ago, with only the simplest of materials at his disposal. How was he able to calculate the circumference of our planet at a time when the measure of distance was more a matter of a shrug and a guess? How could he be so confident in two key assumptions that underlay his calculations: that the earth was round and the sun so far away that its rays struck the ground in parallel lines? Was it luck or pure scientific genius?" "Nicastro brings readers on a trip into a long-vanished world that prefigured modernity in many ways, where neither Eratosthenes' reputation, nor the validity of his method, nor his leadership of the Great Library of Alexandria were enough to convince all his contemporaries about the dimensions of the earth. Eratosthenes' results were debated for centuries until he was ultimately vindicated almost 2000 years later, during the great voyages of exploration." ""Circumference" is a scientific detective story that transports readers back to a time when humans had no idea how big their world was - and the fate of a man who dared to measure what was thought to be immeasurable."--Jacket.