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Please try again later. World in the Balance sheds a great deal of light on how various cultures Chinese, African et cetera underwent metrication. A must read for anyone interested in the International System. The name Metric System had referred to the units for length and mass.

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What the CGPM had created was much more comprehensive, and after some discussion, this new system was called the International System of units or SI after its French initials. For the first time, the world had not merely universal units, but a universal system of units. One person found this helpful. Not quite what I was wanting. It isn't technical enough, nor does it seem to really be as comprehensive as it should be.

It seems to glaze over both science and history for the sake of narrative and focus on "modern" goals of natural standards, without really focusing on these either. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. I first saw this book in my country Brazil , in Portuguese, and it caught my attention at first sight.

The history of man's attempts to find universal references always attracted me, and the way Crease exposes it in this book is very pleasant. There are some interesting parts in this book, but it goes on and on about stuff the author could have covered more succinctly.

If you are interested in the topic, it's worth reading, but check it out at the library and skim thorough it.

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It was better than okay. I found this book thought provoking. It is the kind of book that someone might recommend for any person without having to make considerations for taste.


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  • I was hoping for more hard science facts, less prose and verbiage. Perhaps I should have sought it out on Wikipedea. Found it very interesting its the history of man through that follows metrology. Rothchilds have been into banking for a long time! There's so much about measurements that we take for granted, that I never even thought had origins or stories--but do. Aug 26, Kyle Bunkers rated it liked it Shelves: I mean by peculiar that it talks about metrology, but it does so in a more 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 past. This book is full of interesting facts, but I found that the World in the Balance: This 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 way. The author also puts a lot more 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 quite the cultural importance that is implied. People use what is convenient and what works for the most part, and the easier a system is to use, generally, the better it works.

    World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement by Robert P. Crease

    The metric system and then the SI system has gained dominance because of its simplicity and, more importantly, it's already widespread use don't underestimate the fact that once it's become standard, it's hard to change The finale of the book is a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the new "metroscape" as Crease calls it. This is the world we live in now and where everything is measured. This involves talking about things that are measurable and those things which are in some sense not measurable, and while I don't agree with the interpretation, it is interesting to at least ponder for a while.

    The book instead focuses more on metrology and how it affects culture, which while interesting, just wasn't quite what I was expecting. Dec 04, Jamie Weiss rated it it was ok.

    World in the Balance

    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 of natural phenomenon instead of a rock that i This was a Christmas present last year from my dad - I have no idea how he picked out or why.

    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 of natural phenomenon instead of a rock that is the "official kilogram". 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. Nov 01, Leni rated it really liked it Shelves: A marvelous read on an important topic, marred only by unnecessary, sloppy errors a good editor should have spotted, including pound instead of ounce p.

    Mar 29, Brian rated it liked it. I have become more and more interested in metrology over the years. Crease's well-researched book covers mass and length quite well, and their historical metrology, quite well. I especially enjoyed the section on early Chinese measures. On the other hand, he completely left out the history of certain measures such as luminosity and temperature. I would also have enjoyed a more complete discussion of the theory behind the Watt balance.

    Feb 29, Kelly rated it really liked it. An excellent microhistory of the quest to define absolute measurements. In addition, the author inadvertently provides some eye-opening examples of the human capacity for obsession and precision. Get Science News headlines by e-mail. View the discussion thread. Skip to main content. Personal genetics Gravitational waves Eclipse See More. Sort by Published at Most Viewed. The ghosts of nearly two dozen icy volcanoes haunt dwarf planet Ceres.

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