Measuring the New World: Enlightenment Science and South America by Neil Safier
Before 1735, South America was unknown to many Europeans. But that year, the Paris Academy of Sciences sent a mission to the Spanish province of Quito (in present-day Ecuador) to…
Measuring the New World synopsis
Before 1735, South America was unknown to many Europeans. But that year, the Paris Academy of Sciences sent a mission to the Spanish province of Quito (in present-day Ecuador) to study the curvature of the Earth at the equator.
The mission's participants, equipped with quadrature and telescopes, referred to the transfer of scientific knowledge from Europe to the Andes as "sacred fires" that mysteriously pass through European astronomical instruments to observers in South America. By taking a multidisciplinary creative look at the effects of this campaign, New World Measurement studies the flow of transatlantic knowledge from West to East. Through temporary monuments and geographic maps, this book explores how the social and cultural worlds of South America contributed to the production of European scientific knowledge during the Enlightenment. Neil Savier uses the books of travel philosophers, as well as samples of the mission, to put this particular scientific endeavor in the broader context of early modern print culture and the emerging intellectual class of scientists as an author..
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