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"...with mathematic precision" - continued...

Field Research

In October 1800, two ships, the "Géographe" and the "Naturaliste," left their home port Le Havre (France) to sail south in the direction of New Holland and Timor. This journey has gone down in history as one of the first expeditions with an explicit anthropological research mission. One of the scientists on board is the physician François Auguste Péron, a student of Lamarck and Pinel at the École de Médecine in Paris. His task: to document the health of the various island dwellers. His hypothesis: contrary to eighteenth century belief, there is no causal relation between physical degeneration and progress of a given civilization. In his published report on the "Voyage de découvertes aux terres australes," Péron claims that one must assume that the state of savageness is actually a state of feebleness (ibid., p. 470).

To confirm this hypothesis the physician included a "dynamometer" in his equipment (ibid., p. 446 f.). This instrument had been invented and made public by the French rifle maker Edmé Regnier two years earlier in 1798:

Regnier 1798, Table: Développement du Dynamomètre du Cit. Regnier
Dynamometer according to Regnier
from: Regnier, Edmé. 1798. Description et usage du dynamomètre, p. 179.

Regnier's dynamometer weighed about one kilogram, consisted of an oval steel clasp, a measuring plate with a dual scale (in myriagrams and kilograms), a pointer, as well as a multi-pieced rig from which to hang the apparatus. This made it possible to measure exactly both tension and pressure, be it from humans, horses or even machines (Regnier 1798, p. 160 ff.).

Reference: Windgätter, Christof. 2005. "...with mathematic precision" - On the Historiography of the Dynamometer. The Virtual Laboratory (ISSN 1866-4784),