In the mid-nineteenth century precision became an object of prestige in the cultural competition among European nation states, along with monumental national libraries, grand museums housing archaeological booty, and world expositions hosted by capital cities. France, or more exactly, Paris, threw its diplomatic resources into projects such as the International Meter Commission and the Carte du Ciel, both scientific undertakings that combined high prestige with high precision. In an age in which modernity was associated more with technology than with science, this most technological side of science became part of the race to become the world’s most modern metropolis – and to become the leader of international governance in science.
The Institute’s Colloquium occurs once per month during the academic year. The usual format is 45 minutes of presentation by the paper's author, followed by 45 minutes of Q&A discussion. No prior reading or preparation is required for this event series. Coffee and cake is served after the talk.