The Measure of All Things : The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error That Transformed the World
4 journalers for this copy...
This is the sort of book I am always so eager to read but that I never actually pick up because other things come first. But after reading the description on the back, it seems really interesting and I was eager to give this one a try!
I earread a copy of this on cassette tapes. This is what I had to say:
There were parts that were really very dry, even for me. There were some fascinating revelations. And there were some parts that were just simple tellings of what had gone on. The basic outline of the book is exploring the Meridian project undertaken by several geodyssers that would measure the length of the portion of a meridian running through France and use that to fashion a new standard measurement of the meter. Since the meter would be based on the earth, it would be a measure free of civilizations/societies/outside forces; it would be as impartial and logical a scientific measurement as could be had. The problem was, man and society got in the way constantly while trying to calculate what it should be. There were wars, political upheaval, resistance, and human emotion all thrown into the mix. The story was all right for what it was but got a lot better when the "lead" geodysser discovered a discrepancy in his measurements that he could not correct. The results were incredible to read about. I'm fascinated by the little twists and turns throughout, their struggles and conflicts, though the writing made some of it sound boring at times. Perhaps it's because it's an abridgment? At any rate, it did get better about halfway through and then steadily onwards from there to the end. I'm very glad I stuck with it and finished it.
The thing I don't really understand, though, is in one sentence the narrator would tell us that everyone abandoned the metric system's use of prefixes (centi-, milli-, kilo-, etc.) and then, two or three statements later, he'd talk about how everyone was on board with it. Or he would explain how the meter was based on something other than the calculations, then go on a minute later to talk about how bad one of them felt to have the meter based on their calculations. I was utterly confused. Perhaps the abridgment is to blame there as well?
The history behind the science was interesting to learn about, but it was the people I really cared about and liked hearing about. And the themes behind it all came through very nicely through the telling. That really made it worth the read for me.
Taking this to a BookCrossing meetup tomorrow. I hope it finds a good home!
Thanks for sharing this book, Kate. This will soon be traveling in my "Biographies of Things" bookbox. Hope it finds another reader soon!
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
To the finder of this book:
Hello and congratulations! You have not only found yourself a good book, but a whole community of booklovers dedicated to sharing books with each other and the world at large. I hope you'll stick around a bit and get to know BookCrossing -- maybe even make a journal entry on this book. You may choose to remain anonymous or to join (it's free!) Feel free to read and keep this book, or to pass it on to a friend or even set it out "in the wild" for someone else to find like you did. If you do choose to join and journal, then you can watch the book as it travels - You'll be alerted by email each time someone makes another journal entry. It's all confidential (you're known only by your screen name and no one is ever given your e-mail address), free, and spam-free. Happy reading!
Fascinating story, even though the read was lengthy at times.