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.
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Larrie D. Ferreiro is the author and editor of several books on the history of science and technology, including Ships and Science, which received the North American Society for Oceanic History's John Lyman Award for Best Book in Science and Technology. He lives in Fairfax Station, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Principal Characters ix
Introduction: The Baseline at Yaruquí xiii
I The Problem of the Earth's Shape 1
II Preparations for the Mission 31
III Finding Quito 61
IV Degree of Difficulty 91
V City of Kings 117
VI The Triangles of Peru 129
VII Death and the Surgeon 163
VIII The War of Jenkins's Ear 179
IX The Dance of the Stars 197
X The Impossible Return 223
XI A World Revealed 247
Epilogue: The Children of the Equator 273
A Note on Language 293
Units of Measure and Currency 295
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very readable account of the first great bi-national scientific expedition. There is a lot to learn about the hardships and difficulties the French-Spanish team overcame in a decade long effort to establish exactly the length of a degree of latitude at the equator. That said the author seems to claim more lasting significane for the impact of the expedition than the facts seem to warrant. The book have been better if the science and, particularly, the mathematics had been explained in greater detail. The book seems excellent in setting the expedition in the context of its times and in its descriptions of French, Spanish, and Peruvian culture.