De Dunkerque al Montgó: L’aventura de la mesura del metre

De Dunkerque al Montgó: L’aventura de la mesura del metre


At the end of the s. In the 18th century in France there were about two thousand units of weights and measures, a riot that hampered trade. Attempts had been made at different times to bring order to this metrological chaos, but the result had always been the same: a failure. It would be the French revolutionaries, who, with the aim of making all citizens equal, would achieve the desired, at least for some, unification.
On May 8, 1790, the Assembly commissioned the Paris Academy of Sciences to propose a reform of the metrological system. The wise men of the Academy decided, in addition to referring all units of measurement to length, the meter, to use the decimal numbering system, and to use nature to define the length of the meter.
As the meter was going to be defined in relation to the longitude of a terrestrial meridian, the two most prestigious astronomers of the moment, J. B. J. Delambre and P. F. A. Mechain, were commissioned to measure the length of an arc of the meridian that passes through Paris. The first would measure from Dunkirk to Rodez, and the second from Rodez to Barcelona. What had to be a job for a few years turned into a seven-year adventure.
At the end of this journey, the astronomers presented their calculations to an international commission. One conclusion was that the Earth’s geoid was more irregular than was supposed.
At the insistence of Mechain to expand the measured meridian arc, it was agreed that Mechain traveled in Barcelona and that it measured to Ibiza. Mechain died in Castellon, leaving the task unfinished. J. B. Biot and F. Arago were in charge of finishing the job. If they initially planned to reach Cullera, the good visibility of the Montgó from the Balearic Islands advised them to go down to this mountain. In 1807 they ended the triangulations.

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Additional information

Weight0.5 kg
Dimensions14.8 × 21 cm

Florencio Burrel, Josep Lluís Doménech, Pep Martínez Romero, Vicent Chorro




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