European Parliament Library

Beyond measure, the hidden history of measurement, James Vincent - hbk

We measure rainfall and radiation, the depths of space and the emptiness of atoms, calories, and steps, happiness and fear. If we could not measure, then we could not observe the world around us; we could not experiment, learn, and co-operate. But why did this urge to measure flourish? And when did measurement become ubiquitous? It is a story that spans hunter-gatherer societies to ancient Egyptians, the French Revolution to the relentless quantification of the twenty-first century self. It is a tale that tracks humanity's search for dependable truths in a chaotic universe. Full of mavericks and visionaries, adventure and breakthroughs, this book shows that measurement has not only made the world we live in, it has made us too
Table Of Contents
Introduction : why measurement matters -- The kindling of civilisation : the ancient world, the first units of measurement, and their cognitive rewards -- Measure and the social order : the importance of meteorology for early states and the fabric of society -- The proper subject of measurement : how the scientific revolution expanded measure's domain -- The quantifying spirit : the disenchantment of the world and the history of hot and cold -- The metric revolution : the radical politics of the metric system and its origin in the French Revolution -- A grid laid across world : the surveying of land, the colonisation of the US, and the power of abstraction -- Measuring life and death : the invention of statistics and the birth of average -- The battle of the standards : metric vs imperial and metrology's culture war -- For all times, for all people : how metric units transcended physical reality and conquered the world -- The managed life : measurement's place in modern society and in our understanding of ourselves -- Epilogue : the measures in the head
Literary Form
non fiction
Physical Description
viii, 418 pages, illustrations (some colour), 24 cm

Library Locations

  • EP Library Brussels

    60 rue Wiertz, Brussels, B-1047, BE