[Kindle] World in the Balance by Robert P. Crease

Y whether I should have been able to nod along and make uick Sense Of Them And of them and technical understanding was simply not to the standard of the target audience or whether the uotations were left purposely obscure to demonstrate how arcane metrology has become and how far the preconditions of being able to measure with precision have retreated from the grasp of the common person an occasional subtheme of the book Whatever the case I wanted a better understanding and this sort of delivery of the scientific particulars fairly unfulfillingIn addition to a scientific grounding of measurement I was eually hoping for an investigation into some of the philosophical ins and into some of the philosophical ins and but here there was little than a few halfhearted uarantined forays He brings up Heidegger just long enough to bring up Heidegger Plus there s an interesting metrological uotation from Wittgenstein But Crease s main philosophical delivery is the metroscape a modern world increasingly penetrated by increasingly precise measurement In such an era he advises that we reflect on what s measurable and not to confuse this with what s merely in some sense uantifiable Parts of this discussion are interesting but it s on the whole underdeveloped to the point where some readers might find it a little empty And for a narrative that focuses throughout on increasingly hard standards of measurement you could object that in this final analysis there s a little conflation of these hard measurement standards and statistical measurement This difference itself might have been interesting for rigorous scientificphilosophical investigation but it isn t thereIf you re looking for a thorough integration of the science the philosophy and the history maybe look elsewhere and if you find it let me now If you re primarily interested in the politics and the historical outlines of metrological unification under the metric system and don t mind a few modest diversions you ll probably be satisfied with World in the and don t mind a few modest diversions you ll probably be satisfied with World in the I have become and interested in metrology over the years Crease s well researched book covers mass and length uite well and their historical metrology uite well I especially enjoyed the section on early Chinese measuresOn the other hand he completely left out the history of certain measures such as luminosity and temperature I would also have enjoyed a complete discussion of the theory behind the Watt balance Very well written this was a mostly I got a little lost in the final third interesting book on the birth and history of the metric system There s so much about measurements that we take for granted that I never even thought had origins or stories but do Enjoyable Didn t read all of this just the parts I was interested in Watt balance and skipped over a lot of the triv. Of colorful individuals including Thomas Jefferson an advocate of the metric system and American philosopher Charles S Peirce the first to tie the meter to the wavelength of light Tracing the dynamic struggle for ultimate precision World in the Balance demonstrates that measurement is both stranger and integral to our lives than we ever suspect.

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Robert P. Crease º 0 review

World in the BalanceAn excellent microhistory of the uest to
absolute measurements In addition the inadvertently provides some eye opening examples of the human capacity for obsession and precision Thoroughly enjoyable This was a Christmas present last year from my dad I have no idea how he picked out or why A history book about weights and measurements doesn t exactly get the blood flowing As for a review it lived up to its promise it s a history book about setting standards for weights and measurements dating back to ancient times through the French Revolution and the birth of the metric system to modernity s move towards defining measurements in terms system to modernity s move towards defining measurements in terms natural phenomenon instead of a rock that is the official ilogram If that sounds interesting you ll probably like it If not you probably won t Don t get me wrong it was okay hence the two stars This book changed my life in many waysI really do wish someday I could meet the author and thank him personally While reading this book I was at a crossroad and dint now what to do career wise His descriptions and history of measurements made me want to contribute to something in this field And Learn I Have learn I have recommend this book everyday since to anyone that will listen I have lent my personal copy out 3 or 4 times It was a little to detailed for my taste A marvelous read on an important topic marred only by unnecessary sloppy errors a good editor should have spotted includingpound instead of ounce p 106Louis and Clark instead of Lewis and Clark p 115stone 14 lbs NOT oz p 142 capitol instead of capital pp 146 148 along with some redundancies All in all however highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of science governance andor modernity World in the Balance The Historic uest for an Absolute System of Measurement henceforth World in the Balance or the book by Robert Crease is an interesting if a bit peculiar book I mean by peculiar that it talks about metrology but it does so in a popular fashion than might be expected As the author tells us he wants the common man to understand why metrology is important now and why it has been to cultures from the pastThis book is full of interesting facts but I found that the stories didn t always intertwine that well and that the narrative flow seemed somewhat forced at times Each chapter by itself flowed fine but I sometimes felt that the jumping from metric system to ancient China to West Africa was a bit out of the wayThe author also puts a lot importance into metrology than I think may be justified While it is true that how we measure things matters I don t think it takes on uite the cultural importance that is implied People use what is convenient and what works World in the Balance is about the worldwide unification. The epic story of the invention of a global network of weights scales and instruments for measurementMillions of transactions each day depend on a reliable network of weights and measures This network has been called a greater invention than the steam engine comparable only to the development of the printing pressRobert P Crease traces the evol. Of a system of weights and measures The starting point then is the incredibly ununified system of culturally and locally contingent measurements which often differed from one tribe and town to the next In broader regional schemes new rulers coming into power freuently demonstrated or consolidated power by tweaking sometimes than tweaking the previous ruler s official measurement standards But it turns out that measurement varying as it does from one locality to another is a source of fraud and manipulationWith the French revolution we see the start of a movement to unify the world under a single metric system of weights and measures one that s decimal rather than fractional which converts easily and intuitively up and down to whatever the desired scale and from which everything is derived from a few basic units which are themselves tied to some reproducible objective scientific phenomenon rather than fiat so that the whole of the system can be constructed and reconstructed worldwide Although this last objective proved difficult than its authors foresaw in the 20th and 21st centuries we finally arrived at base units which are informational rather than artefactualThe subtitle The Historic uest for an Absolute System of Measurement gives a hint that the book goes in depth into the history than the science but I was still discouraged by how little science there was There was science of course but it was freuently incidental to the political and historical inflection points of measurement unification There was never any fundamental discussion of what measurement is of its physical limits etc As a general rule further the reference point ventures from the human scale the less explanation there isWhere the scientific specifics are concerned Crease often cites historical sources but give no further translationOn October 14 1960 the thirty two delegates to the eleventh General Conference of Weights and Measures CGPM of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures BIPM deciding that the current meter Measures CGPM of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures BIPM deciding that the current meter not defined with sufficient precision for the needs of today s metrology and that it was desirable to adopt a standard that is natural and indestructible ratified the following resolution The metre is the length eual to 165076373 wavelengths in vacuum of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the levels 2p10 and eual to 165076373 wavelengths in vacuum of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the levels 2p10 and of the rypton 86 atom At last the meter was tied to the natural standard The meter was redefined once again in 1983 as the length of the path traveled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1299792458 of a second Reading such passages I wasn t sure if the uotations were embedded solely in service of the overall theme of increasing unification such that any further elaboration was therefore unnecessar. Ution of this international system from the use of flutes to measure distance in the dynasties of ancient China and figurines to weigh gold in West Africa to the creation of the French metric and British imperial systems The former prevailed with the United States one of three holdout nations Into this captivating history Crease weaves stories.

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