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    Re: averaging devices on sextants
    From: Fred Hebard
    Date: 2004 Oct 9, 11:17 -0400

    On Oct 8, 2004, at 1:22 PM, George Huxtable wrote:
    > By the way, there's a recent book out in paperback, "The Measure of All
    > Things", by Ken Alder (Abacus 2003 or 2004), about the French attempts
    > to
    > define the length of the metre by accurately surveying the radius of
    > the
    > Earth, along the meridian through Paris, from Dunkerque to Barcelona,
    > in
    > Revolutionary times (1790s). This used Borda circles.
    The heart of the drama in Alder's book, which was very real to Mechain,
    is about a new form of error that crept into the measurements using the
    circle.  This was ultimately uncovered by Legendre, who analyzed the
    data.  It is interesting to me that all these great mathematicians such
    as Euler, Gauss & Legendre were analyzing data back in those days.  I
    get the impression that mathematicians nowadays are bored by data, and
    leave that to mere statisticians.  And now even the statisticians seem
    bored by data!

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