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Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  63 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
An award-winning historian of science reveals the riveting and little-known story of a team of eighteenth-century European scientists that journeyed to South America to calculate the shape of the earth.
ebook, 377 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published May 31st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 173)
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Remo
Jun 07, 2015 Remo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a history of a joint French-Spanish expedition to Peru (now Ecuador) in the late 1730s to measure a degree of latitude at the equator. It's an interesting mix of science, history and adventure.

A bunch of scientists traveling halfway around the world back when that was HARD, to a land few of them understood or knew anything about, just to measure as precisely as possible the length of a degree of latitude at the equator is amazing. The hardships they endured and obstacles they overc
...more
Ross
Aug 29, 2011 Ross rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although well written I can't give this work more than 2 stars. Such a small portion of the book is really concerned with the actual science, I had to do a lot of skimming. The book is 95% about the logistics and people of the expedition. I liked the 5% about the actual science.
History buffs interested in the relations between France and Spain early in the 18th century and the state of the Spanish colony in South America at that time, should find much more of the book worth reading.
JodiP
Dec 23, 2014 JodiP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it was a nice surprise to discover this was the precursor to The Mapmaker's Wife, which I'd read a few years ago. The story of this expedition was fascinating. although the scientists truly mismanaged many aspects of the journey and work, the natural elements and the limits of known facts also impaired their efforts. Even so, they were able to measure the shape of the earth with amazing accuracy. The author kept the narrative tripping along, and I left with a sens eof awe that this task got acco ...more
Josh Hamacher
Mar 12, 2012 Josh Hamacher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
In this modern era of GPS and satellite sensors it's easy to forget that the world used to be full of vast, unexplored places. Even the exact shape of the earth was hotly contested; while it was known to be a sphere, no one was certain if it was flattened or elongated.

A group of French "scientists" (that word had not yet been coined), aided by two top Spanish naval officers, traveled in 1735 to what would become Ecuador on a mission to determine how long a degree of latitude was at the equator.
...more
Chad Bullard
Sep 04, 2012 Chad Bullard rated it really liked it
I am a Geologist and this is a historical book that a Geologist would enjoy. Unfortunately,there is not much material on this Geodetic Mission to the Equator. Thankfully we now have Larrie D. Ferreiro’s book that covers this expedition in detail and with a spirit that makes it a very good book to read. “Measure of the Earth, The Enlightenment Expedtion That Reshaped Our World” takes place in the period is just after the Baroque music period in Europe, a period that I am fascinated to know more a ...more
Jonathan
Jul 09, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A case study on how not to manage an expedition. Fascinating.
Alasdair Craig
Jun 27, 2016 Alasdair Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched and fascinating telling of a pioneering scientific expedition. Survey and astronomy was tough in the 1730s.
Lisa
May 29, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I thought the book would be an interesting read for the science, but sadly not as much of the book was about the science as expected. The book is very thorough about the expedition, it's just that much of that thoroughness was devoted to aspects I was not interested in - the personalities and the logistics, as reviewer Ross has already noted.
Lori
Aug 17, 2015 Lori rated it it was amazing
Very meaty historical account of the 18th c expedition to S. America to determine the shape of Earth. Incredibly well researched and cannot wait until the author comes to guest lecture in my class this fall!
Margaret
A fascinating account of a joint French/Spanish scientific expedition to Peru to measure the exact distance of a degree of latitude at the equator. The author makes a strong case for this joint effort setting the stage for subsequent successful revolutions to overthrow Spanish rule in the New World.
Tom
Jun 05, 2012 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting account of an obscure 18th century French/Spanish expedition to the equator in South Amercica to determine the true shape of the Earth. You probably need an interest in science and math to enjoy the book.
Nick
Feb 10, 2015 Nick rated it it was amazing
Perspective on what it took for us to make scientific advances that we take for granted today.
Wendy
a rare foray into non-fiction...
Michael Florez
Sep 30, 2011 Michael Florez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
French suffer one degree.
Cheryl
May 24, 2014 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2 1/2 to 3 stars.
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