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The Problem of the Earth's Shape from Newton to Clairaut

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' Science

$160.00 (C)

  • Date Published: July 1995
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521385411

$ 160.00 (C)
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  • In this book, Greenberg investigates the spread of Newtonian physics in the French scientific community during the eighteenth century. His central thesis is that Newton's own publications contributed only a small part of the work done on the shape of the earth. Continental scholars, especially Leibniz, influenced developments in Paris, and other French scholars, including Bouguer and Maupertuis, all contributed work used by Alexis-Claude Clairaut in developing his mature theory of the earth's shape. The evolution of Parisian physics, then, proved to be not merely the replacement of one paradigm with another, as might be expected from Thomas Kuhn's formulations about scientific revolutions, but a long, complicated process involving many areas of research and contributions from the entire scientific world. "Normal" science contributed not only anomalies present in earlier theories, but a good part of the solution.

    • Highly technical text
    • Unique in its discoveries and analysis
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    "The book is very well written and it is interesting to read." Mathematical Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 1995
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521385411
    • length: 800 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 43 mm
    • weight: 1.29kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    1. Isaac Newton's theory of a flattened Earth
    2. The state of the problem of the Earth's shape in the 1720s: stalemate
    3. The revival of geodesy in Paris (1733–1735)
    4. Pierre Bouguer and the theory of homogeneous figures of equilibrium (1734)
    5. Maupertuis: on the theory of the Earth's shape (1734)
    6. Alexis-Claude Clairaut's first theories of the Earth's shape
    7. Interlude I: integral calculus (1690–1741)
    8. Interlude II: the Paris academy contest on the tides (1740)
    9. Clairaut's mature theory of the Earth's shape (1741–1743): first substantial connections between the revival of mathematics in Paris and progress in mechanics there
    10. Epilogue: Fontaine's and Clairaut's advances in the partial differential calculus revisited, or the virtues of interrelated developments in mathematics and science, and the fall of 'normal' science
    Notes to chapters
    Biography.

  • Author

    John L. Greenberg

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