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This resulted in a stream of Academy memoirs and prizes that attempted to merge Newtonian mechanics with Cartesian vortices. , lengthened at the poles). The director of the Paris observatory, Giovanni Domenico Cassini (succeeded by his son Jacques) had carried out geodesic surveys in France from 1683 to 1718 that supported this view, showing (erroneously, as it happened) a noticeable enlarging of a degree of arc from north to south. , bulged at the equator and flattened at the poles). 18 So the debate between Descartes and Newton really came down to a question of Earth’s shape, and that represented more than just a polite academic squabble.

18 So the debate between Descartes and Newton really came down to a question of Earth’s shape, and that represented more than just a polite academic squabble. Knowledge of the the exact size and shape of the Earth was essential for accurate navigation on the oceans. 4 million today) for accurate determination of longitude, was still up for grabs. 3 The prolate spheroid of Descartes and the oblate spheroid of Newton. also as minister of the navy, which included responsibility for the colonies and merchant trade.

He was the first of the expedition to die, and the youngest. After his burial in the church at Cayambe, the expedition returned to their survey and found, probably with some relief, that it was not suitable for the baseline. They turned their attention to a plain about 35 kilometers east of Quito, called Yaruquí. Today Yaruquí is covered with greenhouses in which magnificent roses are grown for export. 29 In 1736 it was two days’ hard journey from Quito, over hills and across steep gorges to get to the large farms that dotted this spit of land.

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