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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
Published New York ; London : Free Press, [2002]
New York : Free Press, 2003


Location Call no. Vol. Availability
Description x, 422 pages : illustrations, maps, color portraits ; 24 cm
Contents Machine derived contents note: Dramatis Personae -- Prologue -- -- CHAPTER ONE: The North-Going Astronomer -- -- CHAPTER TWO: The South-Going Astronomer -- -- CHAPTER THREE: The Metric of Revolution -- -- CHAPTER FOUR: The Castle of Mont-Jouy -- -- CHAPTER FIVE: A Calculating People -- -- CHAPTER SIX: Fear of France -- -- CHAPTER SEVEN: Convergence -- -- CHAPTER EIGHT: Triangulation -- -- CHAPTER NINE: The Empire of Science -- -- CHAPTER TEN: The Broken Arc -- -- CHAPTER ELEVEN: Mechain's Mistake, Delambre's Peace -- -- CHAPTER TWELVE: The Metered Globe -- -- Epilogue: The Shape of Our World -- -- Note on Measures -- -- Note on Sources -- -- Notes -- -- Selected Bibliography -- -- Acknowledgments -- -- Index
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 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?"--BOOK JACKET
Notes Formerly CIP. Uk
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Subject Delambre, J. B. J. (Jean Baptiste Joseph), 1749-1822.
Méchain, Pierre, 1744-1804.
Arc measures -- History.
Meter (Unit) -- History.
LC no. 2002070267
ISBN 074321675X