Tag Archives: meter

The Measure of All Things in the 526’s

Title: The Measure of All Things: The Seven Year Odyssey and the Hidden Error that Transformed the World
Author: Ken Alder
Source: library
Fun Fact:  Prior to adoption of the metric system, over 250,000 different units of measurement were being used in France alone.
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: The book started out really well, making a potentially boring topic feel exciting but by the end there was too much tangential information included and the plot started to drag.

In The Measure of All Things, Ken Alder describes the surprisingly difficult and adventurous process by which the length of the meter was determined.  Savants or learned men of France decided that the best way to develop a universal standard of measurement was to base that measurement on the natural world.  They selected one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the north pole and tasked two savants with leading expeditions to measure part of that distance using triangulation (the rest of the distance would then be estimated based on their results).  Their journey started while the French revolution was taking place and over the seven years of their travels they faced challenges including civil war, wars with other countries, mountainous terrain, and malaria. Continue reading

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Filed under History, non-fiction