The Problem of the Earth's Shape from Newton to Clairaut : The Rise of Mathematical Science in Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Fall of 'Normal' Scie

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The Problem of the Earth's Shape from Newton to Clairaut : The Rise of Mathematical Science in Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Fall of 'Normal' Scie

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  • 製本 Hardcover:ハードカバー版/ページ数 781 p.
  • 言語 ENG
  • 商品コード 9780521385411
  • DDC分類 525.1

Full Description


This book investigates, through the problem of the Earth's shape, part of the development of post-Newtonian mechanics by the Parisian scientific community during the first half of the eighteenth century. In the Principia, Newton first raised the question of the Earth's shape. John Greenberg shows how continental scholars outside France influenced efforts in Paris to solve the problem, and he also demonstrates that Parisian scholars, including Bouguer and Fontaine, did work that Alexis-Claude Clairaut used in developing his mature theory of the Earth's shape. The evolution of Parisian mechanics proved not to be the replacement of a Cartesian paradigm by a Newtonian one, a replacement that might be expected from Thomas Kuhn's formulations about scientific revolutions, but a complex process instead involving many areas of research and contributions of different kinds from the entire scientific world. Greenberg both explores the myriad of technical problems that underlie the historical development of part of post-Newtonian mechanics and embeds his technical discussion in a framework that involves social and institutional history, politics, and biography.

Table of Contents

        List of illustrations                      viii
Preface xv
Isaac Newton's theory of a flattened earth 1 (14)
(1687, 1713, 1726)
The state of the problem of the earth's shape 15 (64)
in the 1720s: Stalemate
The revival of geodesy in Paris (1733-1735) 79 (10)
Pierre Bouguer and the theory of homogeneous 89 (18)
figures of equilibrium (1734)
Maupertuis: On the theory of the earth's 107 (25)
shape (1734)
Alexis-Claude Clairaut's first theories of 132 (93)
the earth's shape
Interlude I: Integral calculus (1690-1741) 225 (175)
Interlude II: The Paris Academy's contest on 400 (26)
the tides (1740)
Clairaut's mature theory of the earth's shape 426 (194)
(1741-1743): First substantial connections
between the revival of mathematics in Paris
and progress in mechanics there
Epilogue: Fontaine's and Clairaut's advances 620 (17)
in the partial differential calculus
revisited, or the virtues of interrelated
developments in mathematics and science, and
the fall of ``normal'' science
Notes 637 (118)
Bibliography 755 (24)
Index 779