Description - The Problem of the Earth's Shape from Newton to Clairaut by John L. Greenberg
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. For example, Newtonian 'normal' science does not take into account crucial developments in continental mathematics used to tackle the problem at issue.
Greenberg both explores the myriad of technical problems that underlie the historical development of part of post-Newtonian mechanics, which have only been rarely analysed by Western scholars, and embeds his technical discussion in a framework that involves social and institutional history, politics, and biography. Instead of focusing exclusively on the historiographical problem, Greenberg shows as well that international scientific communication was as much a vital part of the scientific progress of individual nations during the first half of the eighteenth century as it is today.
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(228mm x 152mm x 43mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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