In June 1792, amidst the chaos of the French Revolution, two intrepid astronomers set out in opposite directions on an extraordinary journey. Starting in Paris, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre would make his way north to Dunkirk, while Pierre-François-André Méchain voyaged south to Barcelona. Their mission was to measure the world, and their findings would help define the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance between the pole and the equator—a standard that would be used “for all people, for all time.”
The Measure of All Things is the astonishing tale of one of history’s greatest scientific adventures. Yet behind the public triumph of the metric system lies a secret error, one that is perpetuated in every subsequent definition of the meter. As acclaimed historian and novelist Ken Alder discovered through his research, there were only two people on the planet who knew the full extent of this error: Delambre and Méchain themselves.
By turns a science history, detective tale, and human drama, The Measure of All Things describes a quest that succeeded as it failed—and continues to enlighten and inspire to this day.
Ken Alder is a professor of history and Milton H. Wilson Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Measure of All Things, published to worldwide acclaim in fourteen languages. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.
Brian Jennings is one of nation's top talk radio programmers who served as National V.P. of Talk Programming for Citadel Broadcasting, one of the nation's largest radio companies for over a decade and served as programming head to over 40 radio stations nationwide. According to Talker's Magazine, he is also one of the founding fathers of the conservative talk radio format. Nominated 5 times as a national talk radio executive of the year by Radio and Records Magazine, Jennings is also a national award-winning journalist. His many awards include Columbia University's DuPont Award, the National Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Ohio State Award, the National Headliners Award, the National Abe Lincoln Award, and others. He has also worked as a consultant to national personalites such as Oliver North, Michael Reagan, Alan Colmes, Dick Cavett, and others. Considered one of the foremost authorities on talk radio today, Jennings resides in the Pacific Northwest and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs throughout the nation and a staunch defender of free speech.