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    The Quest for the True Figure of the Earth: Ideas and Expeditions in Four Centuries of Geodesy (Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945) (Hardback) By (author) Michael Rand Hoare

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    DescriptionIn the 1730s two expeditions set out from Paris on extraordinary journeys; the first was destined for the equatorial region of Peru, the second headed north towards the Arctic Circle. Although the eighteenth century witnessed numerous such adventures, these expeditions were different. Rather than seeking new lands to conquer or mineral wealth to exploit, their primary objectives were scientific: to determine the Earth's precise shape by measuring the variation of a degree of latitude at points separated as nearly as possible by a whole quadrant of the globe between Equator and North Pole. Although such information had consequences for navigation and cartography, the motivation was not simply utilitarian. Rather it was one theme among many in an intellectual revolution in which advances in mathematics paralleled philosophical strife, and reputations of the living and the dead stood to be elevated or destroyed. In particular the two expeditions hoped to prove the correctness of Isaac Newton's prediction that the Earth is not a perfect sphere, but flattened at the poles. In this study, the 'Figure of the Earth' controversy is for the first time comprehensively explored in all its several dimensions. It shows how a largely neglected episode of European science, that produced no spectacular process or artefact - beyond a relatively minor improvement in maps - nevertheless represents an almost unique combination of theoretical prediction and empirical method. It also details the suffering of the two teams of scientists in very different extremes of climate, whose sacrifices for the sake of knowledge rather than colonial gain, caught the imagination of the literary world of the time.


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  • Full bibliographic data for The Quest for the True Figure of the Earth

    Title
    The Quest for the True Figure of the Earth
    Subtitle
    Ideas and Expeditions in Four Centuries of Geodesy
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Michael Rand Hoare
    Physical properties
    Format: Hardback
    Number of pages: 200
    Width: 156 mm
    Height: 234 mm
    Thickness: 25 mm
    Weight: 567 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780754650201
    ISBN 10: 0754650200
    Classifications

    B&T Book Type: NF
    BIC E4L: GEO
    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: S8.0
    BIC subject category V2: PDX
    B&T Merchandise Category: TXT
    B&T Modifier: Region of Publication: 03
    B&T Modifier: Academic Level: 01
    B&T Modifier: Subject Development: 01
    B&T General Subject: 431
    BIC subject category V2: RGY
    BISAC V2.8: SCI030000, HIS037030
    DC22: 526.1
    LC subject heading: ,
    DC22: 526/.1/09
    LC classification: QB281 .H53 2004
    Illustrations note
    27 b&w illustrations, 13 line drawings
    Publisher
    Ashgate Publishing Group
    Imprint name
    Ashgate Publishing Limited
    Publication date
    30 December 2005
    Publication City/Country
    Aldershot
    Author Information
    Dr Michael Rand Hoare is Emeritus Reader at the University of London, UK.
    Table of contents
    Preface; Author's preface; A dispute in the making; Prelude to an odyssey; Some technicalities; The Lapland expedition; The Peru expedition; Meanwhile in Paris; Death and deliverance; A grievous aftermath; Once more unto the Meridian; A modern postscript; Appendices; Select reading list; Index.