In what was to become a legendary tale of greed, adultery and despair, a French expedition set sail in 1735 for what is now Ecuador to determine the shape of the Earth. Just to reach Peru took 6 months. The expedition members argued, split up and made their way separately to Quito. On his way, Charles-Marie de la Condamine became lost in the jungle where he discovered rubber and realized its true potential for industry. He went on to figure out the basics of the metric system and, by pure chance, discover a cure for malaria.