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

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  83 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Millions of transactions each day depend on a reliable network of weights and measures. This network has been called a greater invention than the steam engine, comparable only to the development of the printing press.


Robert P. Crease traces the evolution of this international system from the use of flutes to measure distance in the dynasties of ancient China and figurines
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ebook, 320 pages
Published October 24th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Brendan  McAuliffe
Didn't read all of this, just the parts I was interested in ( Watt balance ) and skipped over a lot of the triva
Kyle Bunkers
World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement (henceforth, World in the Balance or the book) by Robert Crease is an interesting if a bit peculiar book. I mean by peculiar that it talks about metrology, but it does so in a more popular fashion than might be expected. As the author tells us, he wants the common man to understand why metrology is important now and why it has been to cultures from the past.

This book is full of interesting facts, but I found that the
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Jamie Weiss
This was a Christmas present last year from my dad - I have no idea how he picked out or why. A history book about weights and measurements doesn't exactly get the blood flowing. As for a review - it lived up to its promise - it's a history book about setting standards for weights and measurements, dating back to ancient times through the French Revolution and the birth of the metric system to modernity's move towards defining measurements in terms of natural phenomenon (instead of a rock that i ...more
Leni
A marvelous read on an important topic, marred only by unnecessary, sloppy errors a good editor should have spotted, including

pound instead of ounce (p. 106)

Louis and Clark instead of Lewis and Clark (p. 115)

"stone" = 14 lbs, NOT oz (p. 142)

capitol instead of capital (pp. 146 & 148)

along with some redundancies.

All in all, however, highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of science, governance and/or modernity.
Brian
Mar 29, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have become more and more interested in metrology over the years. Crease's well-researched book covers mass and length quite well, and their historical metrology, quite well. I especially enjoyed the section on early Chinese measures.
On the other hand, he completely left out the history of certain measures such as luminosity and temperature. I would also have enjoyed a more complete discussion of the theory behind the Watt balance.
Atila Iamarino
Legal e bem escrito, mas pelo tema achei um tanto chato. Gostei de saber como as medidas transitaram de algo orgânico, como um pé ou uma polegada, ou mesmo medidas de área baseadas em produtividade ou um dia de trabalho na lavoura, para algo universal. Mas acompanhei mais por já estar ouvindo.
Kelly
Feb 29, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent microhistory of the quest to define absolute measurements. In addition, the author inadvertently provides some eye-opening examples of the human capacity for obsession and precision. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Gendou
Jun 15, 2014 Gendou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a dry but detailed history of the standards of measure. I was hoping for more physics of the quantum units of measurement. The part about Akan goldweights was pretty interesting, but it felt like more anthropology than metrology.
Carl
Nov 23, 2016 Carl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This should be more interesting, but it begins to drag about half way through.
Sarah
Really 3.5. Some (most?) of the book was top notch but there was one really meh part. Very interesting other than that section though.
Juan
Oct 26, 2016 Juan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
... mas parece un recuento de discusiones bizantinas, no entra en como y por que se llego a cada tipo de medida.
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Professor Robert P. Crease is Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York.
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