17 June 2008
OHM, Georg Simon (1789-1854). Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet. Berlin: J. G. F. Kniestdt for T. H. Riemann, 1827.
8o (197 x 123 mm). Errata leaf mounted on rear pastedown. One engraved plate; without the advertisement leaf found in a few copies. (Occasional very light foxing.) Contemporary German mottled-paper covered boards (some rubbing along joints and edges); red quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: Memorial Library of the International Electrical Exhibition, 1884 (bookplate); Franklin Institute Library (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION of a pioneering work in the development of electrical science, containing the first fully developed presentation of Ohm's theory of electricity. In it Ohm established the basis for the modern system of electrical measurement, the so-called "Ohm's Law," which states that the "resistance of a given conductor is a constant independent of the voltage applied or the current flowing" (PMM). Although Ohm derived his law from rigorous experimentation, his work suffered from "a highly abstract theoretical mode of presentation [influenced by Fourier's Théorie analytique de la chaleur, 1822] that obscured the theory's close relationship with experiment" (DSB). Partly for this reason, when it first appeared Ohm's work was poorly received by his contemporaries, even within Germany, "largely because the majority of German physicists in 1827 represented a soon-to-be-superseded non-mathematical approach to physics" (op cit.) By the early 1830's, however, Ohm's fundamental law of electric circuits had been adopted by younger physicists studying electricity. "On the other hand, the question of how fast Ohm's work became known and appreciated by the majority of scientists who were not particularly concerned with that branch of physics has still to be answered... English and French physicists [including Faraday] seem not to have become aware of Ohm's work and its profound implications for electrical science until the late 1830's and early 1840's" (DSB). Dibner Heralds of Science 63; Grolier/Horblit 81; Norman 1607; PMM 289; Wheeler Gift Catalogue 835.
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