The Measure of the Earth

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2011-05-31
Publisher(s): Basic Books
List Price: $28.00

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In the early eighteenth century, European thinkers were torn between Descartes' notion that the earth was spherical and Newton's contention that it was flattened at the poles. Eager to reap the great military and imperial advantages of knowing the earth's exact shape, France and Spain sent an expedition of scientists and naval officers to colonial Peru to measure the degree of equatorial latitude, which could resolve the debate. But what seemed to be a straightforward survey down the Andes was quickly marred by catastrophe. In Measure of the Earth, award-winning science writer Larrie D. Ferreiro tells the full story of the Geodesic Mission for the first time, describing the remarkable scientific expedition through the eyes of the men who served on it.

Table of Contents

Principal Charactersp. ix
Introduction: The Baseline at Yaruquíp. xiii
The Problem of the Earth's Shapep. 1
Preparations for the Missionp. 31
Finding Quitop. 61
Degree of Difficultyp. 91
City of Kingsp. 117
The Triangles of Perup. 129
Death and the Surgeonp. 163
The War of Jenkins's Earp. 179
The Dance of the Starsp. 197
The Impossible Returnp. 223
A World Revealedp. 247
Epilogue: The Children of the Equatorp. 273
Afterwordp. 289
A Note on Languagep. 293
Units of Measure and Currencyp. 295
Acknowledgmentsp. 297
Notesp. 299
Indexp. 339
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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