The Hidden History of Measurement
by James Vincent
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Pub Date 2 Jun 2022 | Archive Date Not set
Faber and Faber Ltd, Faber & Faber
A revelatory and vibrant story of measurement which will make you look at the world around you anew.
'A wildly ambitious book by a formidably talented young writer.'
'Vivid, epic, and full of curiosities. This is a book to delight and fascinate.'
TIM HARFORD, author of How to Make the World Add Up
'Beyond Measure offers, with much intellectual flair and style, a bracing new history: how the once innocent urge to quantification took over our lives, our sense of ourselves and the world.'
'The exact value of this book is hard to quantify. Weighty, precise and satisfyingly obsessive, it's also an absolute pleasure to read.'
SIMON GARFIELD, bestselling author of The Timekeepers
We measure rainfall and radiation, the depths of space and the emptiness of atoms, calories and steps, happiness and pain. But how did measurement become ubiquitous in modern life? When did humanity first take up scales and rulers, and why does this practice hold authority over so many aspects of our lives?
Written with vim and dazzling intelligence, James Vincent provides a fresh and original perspective on human history as he tracks our long search for dependable truths in a chaotic universe. Full of mavericks and visionaries, adventure and the unexpected, Beyond Measure shows that measurement has not only made the world we live in, it has made us too.
'An epic story about humankind's relationship with the physical world. Vincent is an erudite and perceptive guide, who with energy and skill weaves history, science and reportage into an enthralling tale.'
'Absolutely fascinating . . . vivid, charming and masterly.'
AMELIA HORGAN, author of Lost in Work
'Delightful . . . one of those books that makes us look afresh at the whole of modern civilisation.'
GRAHAM FARMELO, author of The Universe Speaks in Numbers
'I adored this provacative book.'
SUE PRIDEAUX, author of I Am Dynamite: A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche
‘Vivid, epic, and full of curiosities. This is a book to delight and fascinate.’
‘The exact value of this book is hard to quantify. Weighty, precise and satisfyingly obsessive, it’s also an absolute pleasure to read.’
‘Size matters today, more than ever, in every realm of human endeavor, and Beyond Measure offers, with much intellectual flair and style, a bracing new history: how the once innocent urge to quantification took over our lives, our sense of ourselves and the world.’
‘A wildly ambitious book by a formidably talented young writer.’ ROBERT MACFARLANE
‘Nietzsche didn’t believe things could be measured because ‘The laws of numbers assume identical things, but in fact nothing is identical with anything else.’ The rest of us mere mortals need systems and measurements to keep our terror of a chaotic universe at bay. I adored this provocative book, even though I know Nietzsche is right.’
SUE PRIDEAUX, author of I AM DYNAMITE: A LIFE OF FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
‘From the cubit to the centigrade, the history of how we have learned to quantify and then control the natural world is the story of technological progress, and indeed of civilisation itself. Vincent has the measure of All Things – and it’s a fascinating tale of how our modern world came to be.’
Professor LEWIS DARTNELL, author of THE KNOWLEDGE
‘A delightful book. Vincent brilliantly illuminates the process that underpins the whole of science and technology. This is one of those books that makes us look afresh at the whole of modern civilisation.’
GRAHAM FARMELO, author of THE UNIVERSE SPEAKS IN NUMBERS
‘A beautiful read and an impressive achievement. Vincent has told an offbeat and revealing history of scientific thought and humanity itself through a subject so many of us take for granted. You will not look at an acre of land, a metric signpost or even a jar of peanut butter in the same way again.’
GAVIN JACKSON, author of MONEY IN ONE LESSON
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