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THE TIMES SCIENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR
NEW YORKER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
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, bestselling 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.’
‘Telling the story of metrology is not easy [but] Vincent is equal to the task . . . this book is extremely good.’
‘This quirky history is inch-perfect.’
‘Gripping.’ NEW SCIENTIST
‘Worth its weight in gold . . . Enlightening.’ OBSERVER
‘Fascinating . . . an erudiite and elegant read.’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
A wildly ambitious book by a formidably talented young writer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beyond Measure offers, with much intellectual flair and style, a bracing new history: how the once innocent urge for quantification took over our lives, our sense of ourselves and the world.
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