Monday, 7 June 2010

Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann

by Sabrina

This novel accompanies two outstanding German scientist on their adventures to elicit the world of it's secrets to mankind.

On the one hand we get to know the Prussian aristocrat Alexander von Humboldt, who travels down the Orinoco, inspecting every plant and turning every rock which came his way, counting head lice for scientific purposes; on the other hand we meet the unsocialized scientist and mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, who counts prime numbers in his head and does not even have to leave his home in Göttingen to prove
that space is curved. He is worried about people thinking too slow and as getting older does the same to him, he thinks growing old not to be tragic but ridiculous.

In 1828 both queer old scientists meet in Berlin. They get to know each other but of course do not like each other.

The book is fairly entertaining as one gets to know each scientist chapter wise. I have to admit that I liked the parts about Gauss better, as he really is an odd man who doesn't need more than a sheet of paper and a pen to do science. I liked to read about his peculiarity, although Humboldt was the one who went through adventures like climbing the highest mountain then known to men and hallucinating due to thin air.

If you would like to read a book including strong characters, adventures, travels and a bit of science this book is the right one for you.


  1. Sounds great! I've heard about this book, but it has not made it to my TBR yet. One more positive review, and I think it will! :-)

  2. I also quite enjoyed this one, and I agree with you on Gauss as a character. This reminds me to try Kehmann´s other works :)

  3. This sounds quite interesting: thanks for the review! :)