Weighing the World: The Quest to Measure the Earth

Overview

At the start of the 18th century there were no maps, anywhere in the world. No one knew, with any certainty, the shape of the earth or what lay beneath its surface. Was it hollow or solid? Were the Andes the highest mountains on the Earth or was it the peak of Tenerife? Was the Earth a perfect sphere or slightly squashed as Sir Isaac Newton prophesized? In Weighing the World, master-surveyor and bestselling author Edwin Danson presents the stories of the scientists and scholars who cut their way through jungles, ...

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Overview

At the start of the 18th century there were no maps, anywhere in the world. No one knew, with any certainty, the shape of the earth or what lay beneath its surface. Was it hollow or solid? Were the Andes the highest mountains on the Earth or was it the peak of Tenerife? Was the Earth a perfect sphere or slightly squashed as Sir Isaac Newton prophesized? In Weighing the World, master-surveyor and bestselling author Edwin Danson presents the stories of the scientists and scholars who cut their way through jungles, crossed the artic tundra, and braved the world's highest mountains to discover the truth about our Earth. Danson also recounts the extraordinary experiment, conducted on a desolate Scottish peak by Astromer Royal Neville Maskelyne, to understand the so-called "attraction of mountains," the curious capability mountians have to bend gravity, without which it would be impossible to accurately map Earth's surface. A spell-binding scientific adventure story, Weighing the World will intrigue anyone curious about the shape of our planet and how we have come to know it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is history writ large, with a long list of characters, and a background of wars, where good maps could be the key to victory."—The New Scientist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195384956
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Edwin Danson is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors. He is the author of Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America.

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Table of Contents

1 I cannot be wrong 3
2 The Titan king 6
3 A calm and gentle character 17
4 The Galileo of France 29
5 Extreme science 37
6 Robberies and depredations 47
7 A magnificent military sketch 59
8 Persons well versed 68
9 Very expert in his business 81
10 A passage with my horse 90
11 Frankenstein and other experiments 99
12 A remarkable hill 106
13 Important observations 115
14 So great a noise 129
15 The attraction of mountains 141
16 The best of the position 155
17 Distinguished merit 164
18 Late by a whole year 176
19 Geodetic experiments 194
20 I know it will answer 203
21 Offering violence to nature 212
22 A meritorious foreigner 223
23 Men worthy of confidence 232
24 Irregularities we have discovered 242
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