12 June 2008
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
FOURIER, Jean Baptiste Joseph (1768-1830). Théorie analytique de la chaleur. Paris: Firmin Didot pére et fils, 1822.
4o (253 x 198 mm). Half-title, cancel leaves 3/4, 4/2, 4/4, 6/2.3, 53/4, 54/1, 59/1, 59/3, 63/2, 64/3, 65/1; c4 blank removed. 2 engraved plates. (Very minor foxing to text.) Contemporary quarter sheep and boards (slight rubbing to extremities). Provenance: Antiquariat Hauser, Munich (bookseller's label on front pastedown).
FIRST EDITION of the first mathematical study of heat diffusion, originally presented as a paper to the Académie des Sciences in 1807. Fourier showed that heat diffusion was subject to simple observable physical constants that could be expressed mathematically. While Galileo and Newton had revolutionized the study of nature by discerning mathematical laws in the movement of solids and fluids, this approach had not been satisfactorily applied to the study of heat before Fourier. His work had major repercussions for the development of both physics and pure mathematics: first, he extended the range of rational mechanics beyond the fields defined in Newton's Principia, establishing an essential branch of modern physics. Secondly, his invention of unprecedentedly powerful mathematical tools for the solution of equations "raised problems in mathematical analysis that motivated much of the leading work in that field for the rest of the century and beyond" (DSB). Dibner Heralds of Science 154; En français dans le texte 232; Norman 824.
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