Midst the chaos of the French Revolution, two astronomers set out in opposite directions from Paris to measure the world, one voyaging north to Dunkirk, the other south to Barcelona. Their findings would help define the meter as one ten-millionth of the distance between the pole and the equator. The Measure of All Things is the astonishing story of one of history's greatest scientific quests, a mission to measure the Earth and define the meter for all nations and for all time.
Yet when Ken Alder located the long-lost correspondence between the two men, along with their mission logbooks, he stumbled upon a two-hundred-year-old secret. The meter, it turns out, is in error. Pierre-François-André Méchain, made contradictory measurements from Barcelona and, in a panic, covered up the discrepancy. The quilty knowledge of his misdeed drove him to the brink of madness, and ultimately to his death. Only then did his partner, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre, discover the truth and face a fateful choice: what matters more, the truth or the appearance of the truth?
This is a story of two men, a secret, and a timeless human dilemma: is it permissible to perpetuate a small lie in the service of a larger truth? In The Measure of All Things Ken Alder describes a quest that succeeded even as it failed. It is a story for all people, for all time.
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.