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World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement

 
 
Author
Robert P. Crease.
Publisher Norton  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
ISBN 9780393072983
Pages/Publication Date 317/2011
Daedalus Item Code 73996
List Price: $26.95
Sale Price: $6.98
You Save: $19.97
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Description
It might not sound like world-making stuff, but millions of transactions each day depend on a reliable network of standard weights and measures, which in commercial terms is comparable only to the development of the printing press. But how were these standards—and their complementary scales and instruments—devised, developed, and agreed upon? The author of A Brief Guide to the Great Equations here traces the evolution of this international system from the use of flutes to measure distance in the dynasties of ancient China, and figurines to weigh gold in West Africa, to the creation of the French metric and British imperial systems. Into this engaging history Robert Crease weaves stories of colorful individuals like Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of the metric system, and American philosopher Charles Peirce, the first to tie the meter to the wavelength of light.

"A colorful tale of global conquest driven by kings, revolutionaries, polyglots and privateers."—Science News

"Takes the seemingly mundane questions we unthinkingly ask dozens of times a day and reveals them to be thrillingly profound."—Richard Panek

 
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