The Measure of All Things (Paperback)

The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World

By Ken Alder

Free Press, 9780743216760, 448pp.

Publication Date: October 1, 2003

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (9/1/2002)

List Price: 26.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

In June 1792, amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, two intrepid astronomers set out in opposite directions on an extraordinary journey. Starting in Paris, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre would make his way north to Dunkirk, while Pierre-Fran ois-Andr M chain voyaged south to Barcelona. Their mission was to measure the world, and their findings would help define the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance between the pole and the equator--a standard that would be used "for all people, for all time."

The Measure of All Things is the astonishing tale of one of history's greatest scientific adventures. Yet behind the public triumph of the metric system lies a secret error, one that is perpetuated in every subsequent definition of the meter. As acclaimed historian and novelist Ken Alder discovered through his research, there were only two people on the planet who knew the full extent of this error: Delambre and M chain themselves.

By turns a science history, detective tale, and human drama, The Measure of All Things describes a quest that succeeded as it failed--and continues to enlighten and inspire to this day.


Praise For The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World

The Boston Globe These are enthralling, fascinating, even mind-altering pages. Alder imbues the narrative with a tremulous, fever-soaked climax and a lengthy and satisfying denouement.



The Philadelphia Inquirer One of those rare works that both rewrite history and capture the imagination.



The New York Times Book Review Passes a central test of any popular work of history: it bathes the past in the light, life, and humanity of the eternal present.