World in the Balance: The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement

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Millions of transactions each day depend on a reliable network of weights and measures. This network has been called a greater invention than the steam engine, comparable only to the development of the printing press. Robert P. Crease traces the evolution of this international system from the use of flutes to measure distance in the dynasties of ancient China and figurines to weigh gold in West Africa to the creation of the French metric and British imperial systems. The former prevailed, with the United States one of ...

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