HELMHOLTZ, Hermann von (1821-1894). ber die Erhaltung der Kraft, eine physikalische Abhandlung. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1847.
8o (230 x 143 mm). (Some light foxing.) ORIGINAL BUFF PRINTED WRAPPERS (small hole to upper blank corner of front cover, possibly from effaced stamp or inscription, neatly patched with archival tissue, small tears to backstrip, reinforced); half morocco folding case.
FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST STATEMENT OF THE LAW OF CONSERVATION OF ENERGY. Written when he was a 26-year old army surgeon, Helmholtz's "epic memoir " (DSB) enunciated the first law of thermodynamics: "that all modes of energy, heat, light, electricity, and all chemical phenomena, are capable of transformation from one to the other but are indestructible and cannot be created" (PMM). Drawing on the earlier work of Sadi Carnot (see lot 18), J. P. Joule, and Holtzmann, and heavily influenced in his reasoning by Kantianism, Helmholtz analyzed different forms of energy and different kinds of force and motion, classifying them as active or kinetic and dead or potential. He gave mathematical expression to the energy of motion, thus providing an experimental measure for research into energy, and showed how the conservation principle can be applied to various physical phenomena, including electrodymanic, galvanic, and electrodynamic phenomena.
A FINE COPY of one of the rarest of the important 19th-century physics papers. Dibner Heralds of Science 159; Garrison-Morton-Norman 611; Grolier/Horblit 48; Norman 1039; PMM 323; Roberts & Trent, pp. 158-159; Sparrow Milestones of Science 96.