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Issue 19



Odds and ends from staff and contributors to The Lamp.


✥ Wisdom says that in the beginning, the Lord divided the earth and the heavens by setting a compass on the face of the deep. It was not until the last few centuries, however, that man made the measure of all things above and below the work of his own hand. We take the measure of the world and ourselves a hundred times a day, with rulers and kitchen thermometers and bathroom scales and, everywhere, clocks. Scientists have honed our capacity to measure to unimaginable degrees of precision, and the entire span of the globe has been plotted to within a hair’s breadth, tracked by satellites which coordinate their movements by subatomically verified timekeeping.

Behind all this is a basic surety: a meter is a meter the world over, a gram as good a gram in Bombay as in Paris. Even the idiosyncratic units customarily used in the United States are, now, defined in reference to these universal standards. The enlightenment dream of measurements “for all times and for all peoples” has been realized—or at least worked out to the kinds of decimal places that only specialists worry about.

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About the author

Nic Rowan

Nic Rowan is managing editor of The Lamp.