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The measure of all things : the seven-year odyssey and hidden error that transformed the world

Author: Ken Alder
Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2003.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
"Amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, two intrepid astronomers set out in opposite directions from Paris to measure the world, one voyaging north to Dunkirk, the other south to Barcelona. Their findings would help define the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance between the pole and the equator, a standard that has since swept the planet. The Measure of All Things is the astonishing story of one of  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: History
Named Person: J B J Delambre; Pierre Méchain; J B J Delambre; Pierre Méchain
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Ken Alder
ISBN: 0743216768 9780743216760
OCLC Number: 53324804
Description: xii, 436 pages : illustrations, maps ; 225 cm
Contents: Ch. 1. The north-going astronomer --
Ch. 2. The south-going astronomer --
Ch. 3. The metric of revolution --
Ch. 4. The castle of Mont-Jouy --
Ch. 5. A calculating people --
Ch. 6. Fear of France --
Ch. 7. Convergence --
Ch. 8. Triangulation --
Ch. 9. The empire of science --
Ch. 10. The broken arc --
Ch. 11. Méchain's mistake, Delambre's peace --
Ch. 12. The metered globe --
Epilogue: The shape of our world.
Responsibility: Ken Alder.
More information:

Abstract:

"Amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, two intrepid astronomers set out in opposite directions from Paris to measure the world, one voyaging north to Dunkirk, the other south to Barcelona. Their findings would help define the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance between the pole and the equator, a standard that has since swept the planet. The Measure of All Things is the astonishing story of one of history's greatest scientific quests, a mission to measure the Earth and define the meter for all nations and for all time." "Yet when Ken Alder located the long-lost correspondence between the two men, along with their mission log books, he stumbled upon a two-hundred-year-old secret, and a drama worthy of the great French playwrights. The meter, it turns out, is in error. One of the two astronomers, Pierre-Francois-Andre Mechain, made contradictory measurements from Barcelona and, in a panic, covered up the discrepancy. The guilty knowledge of his misdeed drove him to the brink of madness, and ultimately to his death. Only then - after the meter had already been publicly announced - did his partner, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre, discover the truth and face a fateful choice: what matters more, the truth or the appearance of the truth?"--Jacket.

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