The battlements of the castle still retain the marks astronomer Pierre Méchain left for the work to determine the metric system
L’Acadèmica of Ciències i Arts de Barcelona stored in their windows pattern far from the meter. It is one of the jewels in its small museum, he remembers that the Catalan capital over 200 years has already made a key point for the measurement of the meridian which resulted in the metric system and whose traces remain on the battlements of the castle of Montjuïc .
In the late eighteenth century there were an infinite number of units of measurement. A true chaos that European scientific and cultural circles wanted to end by adopting a universal system of measurement. It was the French National Assembly emerged from the Revolution that shook tab and commissioned a report to the Academy of Sciences in Paris, which among the various existing proposals, advised to take the meter or ten-millionth part of the quadrant of the meridian. To determine this, it was decided, after heated political and technical discussions, measure the arc of the meridian passing through Paris between Dunkirk and Barcelona. He should just name the Meridiana Avenue, because it coincides with its layout.
Us two astronomers, Jean Delambre and Pierre Méchain was entrusted. The first left for Dunkirk, and the second to Barcelona. Mechain measures initiated by the triangulation method from the border to Castellon. Between 1792 and 1793 he moved to the Catalan capital. One of the points from that recorded their measurements was the Montjuïc castle tower, and there still exist surprisingly, three of the battlements, marks made with the instrumental on the stone.
The marks go unnoticed except for connoisseurs of this historical episode. There remain, resisting the passage of time and erosion, claiming Barcelona’s role in the adoption of the metric system. Mechain Castellon died in 1794 because of yellow fever while completing their measurements. The work was completed by the French astronomer François Arago of Catalan origin.
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