The Man Who Flattened the Earth: Maupertuis and the Sciences in the Enlightenment

Self-styled adventurer, literary wit, and statesman of science, Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698 - 1759) stood at the center of Enlightenment science and culture. With The Man Who Flattened the Earth , Mary Terrall offers an elegant portrait of this remarkable man, revealing just how his private life and public works made him a man of science in eighteenth-century Europe. Maupertuis entered the public eye with a much-discussed expedition to Lapland and went on to make significant and often intentionally controversial contributions to physics, life science, and astronomy. Equally at ease in cafes and royal courts, Maupertuis used his social connections and his printed works to enhance a carefully constructed reputation as both a man of letters and a man of science. Terrall not only illuminates the life and work of Maupertuis but also delves into larger Enlightenment issues, including the development of scientific institutions, the impact of print culture on science, and the often vexed interactions of science and government.