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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/La Condamine, Charles Marie de

< 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

LA CONDAMINE, CHARLES MARIE DE (1701-1774), French geographer and mathematician, was born at Paris on the 28th of January 1701. He was trained for the military profession, but turned his attention to science and geographical exploration. After taking part in a scientific expedition in the Levant (1731), he became a member with Louis Godin and Pierre Bouguer of the expedition sent to Peru in 1735 to determine the length of a degree of the meridian in the neighbourhood of the equator. His associations with his principals were unhappy; the expedition was beset by many difficulties, and finally La Condamine separated from the rest and made his way from Quito down the Amazon, ultimately reaching Cayenne. His was the first scientific exploration of the Amazon. He returned to Paris in 1744 and published the results of his measurements and travels with a map of the Amazon in Mém. de Vacadémie des sniences, 1745 (English translation 1745-1747). On a visit to Rome La Condamine made careful measurements of the ancient buildings with a view to a precise determination of the length of the Roman foot. The journal of his voyage to South America was published in Paris in 1751. He also wrote in favour of inoculation, and on various other subjects, mainly connected with his work in South America. He died at Paris on the 4th of February 1774.