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Maupertuis measuring the shape of the Earth

Maupertuis measuring the shape of the Earth

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Measuring the Earth's shape. Engraving of the expedition led by French scientist Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis (1698-1759) to measure the shape of the Earth. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is in the upper frame. Maupertuis (at left) led an expedition to Lapland, northern Scandinavia, to measure the length of one degree of longitude. The distance was measured on the ground by means of rods and Maupertuis took astronomical observations to determine their position. Another French scientist, La Condamine, took similar measurements around the equator. Their results showed that the Earth bulged at the equator, a theory first proposed by British scientist Isaac Newton.

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