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Gauss, Meyerstein and Hanoverian Metrology

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The growing need for standardized units of measure led to major metrological reforms in the mid-nineteenth century. This paper focusses on their implementation in the Kingdom of Hanover and the involvement of C.F. Gauss. His papers reveal how much the success of his precision measurements hinged on the skill of his mechanic M. Meyerstein. A discussion of the regional weights and measures and the standardization procedure is followed by a description of various precision balances and the weighing methods employed as well as a review of the problems posed by reliable length calibration. The success of the enterprise rested not only on intellectual prestige and ministerial clout but also on the hands-on skill of the mechanical practitioner.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Berne, Switzerland

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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