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Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler (1770–1843)

The exhibition has been organized on the occasion of the 22nd International Conference on the History of Cartography, which took place from July 8 to 13, 2007, in Bern. The Hassler exhibition was under the patronage of the Federal Office of Metrology (METAS), the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo) and the Swiss Federal Archives (SFA).

The exhibition has been dedicated to the lifework of Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler, geodesist, metrologist and mathematician, who was born in 1770 in Aarau, Switzerland. During the Helvetic times he was involved in national surveying in Switzerland. After the collapse of the Helvetic Republic, he emigrated to America where he was commissioned by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson in 1807 to establish the Coast Survey. The subsequent U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey eventually evolved to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which celebrated its bicentennial in 2007. A part of NOAA is the National Geodetic Survey, the present counterpart of the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo). During his journey to America, Hassler took with him a «Committee Meter», a copy of the so-called «Mètre des Archives» in Paris; it could be said that Hassler brought the meter to America. Later on he dealt with the standardization of the American weights and measures and is considered as the founder of the U.S. Bureau of Weights and Measures, the predecessor of today’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the American counterpart and partner of the Swiss metrology institute (METAS).

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