10 December 1999
FOURIER, Jean Baptiste Joseph (1768-1830). Thorie analytique de la chaleur. Paris: Firmin Didot pre et fils, 1822.
4o (250 x 203 mm). Half-title; 2 engraved plates. With cancel leaves 3/4, 4/2, 4/4, 6/2.3, 53/4, 54/1, 59/1, 59/3, 63/2, 64/4, 65/1; c4 blank removed. (Half-title a trifle dust-soiled, plates slightly foxed, occasional very minor foxing to text, a few leaves in second half with traces of mildew in outer margins, small portion of upper margin of fol. 14/3 torn away.) Modern calf antique. Provenance: a few modern marginal pencil notes by an English-speaking mathematician or physicist.
FIRST EDITION of the first mathematical study of heat diffusion, oirginally presented as a paper to the Acadmie 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 franais dans le texte 232; Norman 824.
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