3 edition of The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named found in the catalog.

The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named

by John Keay

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Published by in Indien, Weltgeschichte, Feld- & Luftbildmessung, Geowissenschaften .
Written in

Edition Notes

Authorby John Keay.
CategoryIndien, Weltgeschichte, Feld- & Luftbildmessung, Geowissenschaften
The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named
Number of Pages208
FormateBook, Gebundene Ausgabe
ID Numbers
SKU 0002570629

Imagine a world without maps, a world where distance, height and depth cannot be taken for granted and where any journey is largely guesswork. Now imagine trying to chart some of the most dangerous and inhospitable terrain with only a few basic instruments and a handful of porters. Yup. It could only be the Brits. The Great Indian Arc of the Meridian, begun in 1800, was the longest measurement of the Earth's surface ever to have been attempted. By the time it was completed 50 years later, more than 1,600 miles of the Indian sub-continent from its southern tip to the Himalayas together with the precise curvature of the Earth, had been surveyed inch-perfectly, effectively opening up the county to the present-day network of roads, railways and telegraph systems. Today, it still remains both one of the great scientific achievements of the 19th century and a lasting testament to Britain's colonial folie de grandeur. Mapping the sub-continent was a mathematical nightmare and the computations could have filled a library. However, it was also a technical nightmare. Each reading could only be confirmed from a location whose precise co-ordinates and height above sea-level were also known, so the operation involved a snail-like zig-zag along every metre of the country, through jungle, rivers and across mountain ranges. Death and disease stalked the operation with countless casualties lost to malaria and wild animals, but the single-minded Brits persevered. John Keay is something of an old India hand with four histories of the sub-continent already to his credit, but The Great Arc could just make him a household name. It has the chatty tones of other small-scale histories, such as Longitude, and a similar cast of eccentric characters--not least William Lambton and George Everest, the two commanders of the expedition. The result is an intelligent and highly readable account of a long-forgotten historical backwater that fills one with awe for both the high-minded determination and stupidity of our forebears, while leaving one profoundly grateful that no one is now expected to follow in their footsteps. --John Crace

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