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Author Alder, Ken.

Title The measure of all things : the seven-year odyssey and hidden error that transformed the world / Ken Alder.

Imprint New York : Free Press, ©2002.


Location Call No. OPAC Message Status
 Axe 2nd Floor Stacks  526.1 Al23m 2002    ---  Available
Description x, 422 pages : illustrations (some color), map ; 25 cm
text txt rdacontent
unmediated n rdamedia
volume nc rdacarrier
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 397-400) and index.
Contents North-going astronomer -- South-going astronomer -- Metric of revolution -- Castle of Mont-Jouy -- Calculating people -- Fear of France -- Convergence -- Triangulation -- Empire of science -- Broken arc -- Mechain's mistake, Delambre's peace -- Metered globe -- Epilogue: Shape of our world.
Summary In June 1792, the erudite and cosmopolitan Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre and the cautious and scrupulous Pierre-Francois-Andre Mechain set out from Paris -- one north to Dunkirk, the other south to Barcelona to calculate the length of the meter. In the face of death threats from village revolutionary councils, superstitious peasants, and civil war, they had only their wits and their letters to each other for support. Their findings would be used to create what we now know as the metric system. Despite their painstaking and Herculean efforts, Mechain made a mistake in his calculations that he covered up. The guilty knowledge of his error drove him to the brink of madness, and in the end, he died in an attempt to correct himself. Only then was his mistake discovered. Delambre decided to seal all evidence of the error in a vault at the Paris Observatory. Two hundred year later, historian Ken Alder discovered the truth. With scintillating prose and wry wit, Alder uses these previously overlooked letters, diaries, and journals to bring to life a remarkable time when everything was open to question and the light of reason made every dream seem possible.
Subject Delambre, J. B. J. (Jean Baptiste Joseph), 1749-1822.
Méchain, Pierre, 1744-1804.
Arc measures -- History.
Meter (Unit) -- History.
Delambre, J. B. J. (Jean Baptiste Joseph), 1749-1822 (OCoLC)fst00132106
Méchain, Pierre, 1744-1804 (OCoLC)fst00244382
Arc measures. (OCoLC)fst00812840
Meter (Unit) (OCoLC)fst01018541
Genre/Form History. (OCoLC)fst01411628
ISBN 074321675X
0965460924 (pbk.)
9780965460927 (pbk.)

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