- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (3 Jun. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0349115079
- ISBN-13: 978-0349115078
- Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Measure Of All Things: The Seven Year Odyssey That Transformed the World Paperback – 3 Jun 2004
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More About the Author
all the pace and plot of a historical adventure novel, as though Longitude had been crossed with A Tale of Two Cities, with a measure of Don Quixote thrown in (The Sunday TIMES)
riveting account of the origins of the metric system... an eye-opener (The DAILY TELEGRAPH)
The revolutionary adventures of two scientists who inaugurated the metric system.
Winner of the 2003 Dingle Prize for the best book on the history of science.
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Top Customer Reviews
Alder's task was formidable. He presents the personalities of the two prime figures that performed the Herculean task of measurement. The two men were similar in some ways, wildly divergent in others. Using Paris as a base, Delambre and Mechain struck out to measure, in effect, the diameter of the Earth to establish a piece of it as the basis for the new standard of measurement - the metre. Alder places his figures and their mission firmly within their total environment. Setting out under a royal commission, they are overtaken by the French Revolution. Part of the background of that upheaval was the Enlightenment - the age in which traditions were questioned and new ideas about the world and the universe were proposed. From this distance of time, everything appears to have fallen into place. Alder, however, shows that not only were answers only being teased from Nature, it was becoming obvious that many necessary questions had yet to be asked.Read more ›
Set against the upheaval in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre and Pierre-Francois-André Méchain journeyed to measure the meridian of Paris from Dunkerque to Barcelona in 1792, little realising the time it would take. If like me, you do not understand the science of geodesy, this is still a very good read, and although the technical details of, for example, Borda's circle are given, this revolutionary (pun intended) piece of equipment can be appreciated from afar. The journeying enabled the metre to be defined, this being one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator, as extrapolated from the measurements of the meridian through France and into Spain. An unforeseen consequence was that the knowledge of the shape of the earth was changed forever by the measurements taken. Hitherto, it had been seen as a uniform, if oblate (fatter at the equator) sphere, if measured at the equator.Read more ›
Among other things we get to understand the arguments for a common measure of all things, why the meter was so important - and why it was rejected, again and again, even in France.
We also slowly get to understand the nature of error in scientific work, for a non-scientist like me this was very interesting.
Some parts of the book could, in my opinion, have been shortened down a little bit, hence the missing 5th star.
All in all, enjoyable and recommendable!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this book for my son who found it a fascinating read, very well presented, well researched, a good buy.Published on 11 Oct. 2013 by Charlotte
Fascinating insight into a subject which first caught my interest in Professor Marcus de Sautoy's recent TV documentary series about measurement.Published on 16 July 2013 by BadLord
I very much enjoyed this book. The metre is a measurement that I completely take for granted. The story of how history shaped this measurement and how this measurement shapes our... Read morePublished on 12 Mar. 2013 by Freshman
This is a great book and a perfect combination of science and history. It was difficult to put down and I learnt a lot of stuff too. Read morePublished on 28 Mar. 2012 by Dr. John P. Yardley
Scientific fraud ranges from acts which surely should be criminal to minor rule-bending which can be viewed with indulgence. Read morePublished on 3 Sept. 2009 by Metropolitan Critic
Fate, war, envy, fraud, suffering and human drama - these are things that do not immediately spring to mind when discussing the history of geodesy. Read morePublished on 10 Jan. 2008 by Christian Jongeneel
The sub-title of this book is ‘The Seven Year Odyssey that Transformed The World’. This journey is both geographical and intellectual, with the very practical aim of... Read morePublished on 25 Mar. 2004 by Mr P R Morgan
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