Jean-Baptiste Delambre

1749 (Amiens, France) – 1822 (Paris)

Méchain and Delambre were together charged with measuring the length of the meridian from Dunkerque via Paris to Barcelona, in order to fix the precise length of the metre. Working separately over a decade, Delambre kept the more secretive Méchain informed of his results, and eventually helped his struggling colleague to complete his task. Delambre taught Comte, minded Thompson, and arranged for publication of Fourier’s work on heat-conduction. He corresponded with Gauss and Maskelyne, enjoyed warm friendly relations with Laplace, attended Ampère’s ill-conceived wedding, and helped him to a job.