The Society makes grants both to individuals and to organisations in support of cultural and scientific activities which increase innovation, outreach and diversity in Leeds and its immediate area. It also supports local museums and galleries and publications relating to the city.

About the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is a charity that promotes interest in science, literature and the arts – in the city of Leeds and beyond. We have meetings, lectures, entertainments, publications and visits.

The battle of the standards of measurement: metric versus imperial and metrology’s culture wars

Historical, scientific and sociological dimensions of measurement – with James Vincent, author of ‘Beyond Measure’

The talk explored the origins and dimensions of what was known in the 19th century as the Battle of the Standards: the fight for supremacy between the imperial and metric systems of measurement. It focused on the US and UK as the primary sites of conflict, exploring how measurement became an issue of cultural and political supremacy — and why the battle rages on today.

A number of technical hazards meant that the recording of this wonderful talk was not of good enough quality to turn into a video and embed in the website. James’s engaging book is widely available – see more below.  

Portrait of author James Vincent

James Vincent is a journalist and writer based in London who has worked and written for numerous publications, including The Independent, the Financial Times, the London Review of Books, Wired, New Statesman and others. He is currently a senior reporter for The Verge. ‘Beyond Measure’ is his first book. It was named as one of the Books of 2022 by New Yorker Magazine. James can be found on Twitter at @jjvincent.

‘Vivid, epic, and full of curiosities. This is a book to delight and fascinate.’
TIM HARFORD, bestselling author of How to Make the World Add Up

‘Beyond Measure offers, with much intellectual flair and style, a bracing new history: how the once innocent urge to quantification took over our lives, our sense of ourselves and the world.’

‘The exact value of this book is hard to quantify. Weighty, precise and satisfyingly obsessive, it’s also an absolute pleasure to read.’
SIMON GARFIELD, bestselling author of The Timekeepers

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