Smoot's Ear: The Measure of Humanity

Smoot's Ear: The Measure of Humanity

Hardback

By (author) Robert Tavernor

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  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 144mm x 214mm x 24mm | 680g
  • Publication date: 24 September 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New Haven
  • ISBN 10: 0300124929
  • ISBN 13: 9780300124927
  • Illustrations note: 20 b&w illustrations
  • Sales rank: 906,628

Product description

Measures are the subject of this unusual book, in which Robert Tavernor offers a fascinating account of the various measuring systems human beings have devised over two millennia. Tavernor urges us to look beyond the notion that measuring is strictly a scientific activity, divorced from human concerns. Instead, he sets measures and measuring in cultural context and shows how deeply they are connected to human experience and history. The book explores changing attitudes toward measure, focusing on key moments in art, sculpture, architecture, philosophy and the development of scientific thought. It encompasses the journey of western civilization from the construction of the Great Pyramid to the first manned flight to the moon. Beginning with a review of early measuring standards that referred to the feet and inches of ideal bodies, the book then tracks how Enlightenment interest in a truly scientific system of measure, unconnected to the human form, led to the creation of the metric system. This 'rational' approach to measure in turn has inspired artists, architects, writers and others to seek a balance that takes the human story into account. Tavernor concludes with a discussion of measure in our own time, when space travel presents to humankind a direct encounter with the unfathomable measure of the universe.

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Author information

Robert Tavernor is professor of architecture and urban design and director of the Cities Programme, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is also a practising architect and leads an influential London-based consultancy, which is currently advising on buildings that will affect the future skyline of London. His previous books include On Alberti and the Art of Building, published by Yale University Press.