The Problem of the Earth’s Figure: Measurement, Theory, and Evidence in Physical Geodesy

My PhD project explores the history of physical geodesy through an in-depth study of its foundational problem: theoretically deriving and empirically measuring the Earth's figure. I present a novel historical analysis of this history and highlight the problem's central role in the histories of gravitational physics, statistics, and modern earth science, as well as its unique importance for our epistemological understanding of measurement, statistical inference, and theory-testing.

Different geodetic measurement operations sketched in: Pierre Bouguer and Charles-Marie de La Condamine in La figure de la terre, Paris 1749.

Hydrostatic derivation of planetary equilibrium figure in: Alexis Clairaut, Théorie de la figure de la terre : tirée des principes de l'hydrostatique, Paris 1743.

Published research from this project:

*Winner of the 2022 APS History and Philosophy of Physics Essay Price

*Winner of the 2021 Du Châtelet Price in Philosophy of Physics