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History of the Inductive Sciences. From the Earliest to the Present Times

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A central figure in Victorian science, William Whewell (1794–1866) held professorships in Mineralogy and Moral Philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, before becoming Master of the college in 1841. His mathematical textbooks, such as A Treatise on Dynamics (1823), were instrumental in bringing French analytical methods into British science. This three-volume history, first published in 1837, is one of Whewell's most famous works. Taking the 'acute, but fruitless, essays of Greek philosophy' as a starting point, it provides a history of the physical sciences that culminates with the mechanics, astronomy, and chemistry of 'modern times'. – Volume 2 focuses on the rise and development of modern mechanics in the seventeenth century. Whewell shows how Galileo's laws of motion exemplify a paradigmatic shift from 'formal' to 'physical' sciences - a new approach concerned with explaining causes rather than merely observing phenomena. It also discusses the implications for physical astronomy of Newton's discoveries. – Contents : – Part I. The Mechanical Sciences; – Book VI. History of Mechanics, Including Fluid Mechanics: 1. Prelude to the epoch of Galileo; 2. Inductive epoch of Galileo. Discovery of the laws of motion in simple cases; 3. Sequel to the epoch of Galileo. Period of verification and deduction; 4. Discovery of the mechanical principles of fluids; 5. Generalization of the principles of mechanics; 6. Sequel of the generalization of the principles of mechanics. Period of mathematical deduction. Analytical mechanics; – Book VII. History of Physical Astronomy: 1. Prelude to the inductive epoch of Newton; 2. The inductive epoch of Newton. Discovery of the universal gravitation of matter, according to the law of the inverse square of the distance; 3. Sequel to the epoch of Newton. Reception of the Newtonian theory; 4. Sequel to the epoch of Newton, continued. Verification and completion of the Newtonian theory; 5. Discoveries added to the Newtonian theory; 6. The instruments and aids of astronomy during the Newtonian period; – Part II. The Secondary Mechanical Sciences; – Book VIII. History of Acoustics: 1. Prelude to the solution of problems in acoustics; 2. Problem of the vibrations of springs; 3. Problem of the propagation of sound; 4. Problem of different sounds of the same string; 5. Problem of the sounds of pipes; 6. Problem of different modes of vibration of bodies in general; – Book IX. History of Optics, Formal and Physical: 1. Primary induction of optics. Rays of light and laws of reflection; 2. Discovery of the law of refraction; 3. Discovery of the law of dispersion by refraction; 4. Discovery of achromatism; 5. Discovery of the laws of double refraction; 6. Discovery of the laws of polarization; 7. Discovery of the laws of the colours of thin plates; 8. Attempts to discover the laws of other phenomena; 9. Discovery of the laws of phenomena of dipolarized light; 10. Prelude to the epoch of Young and Fresnel; 11. Epoch of Young and Fresnel; 12. Sequel to the epoch of Young and Fresnel. Reception of the undulatory theory; 13. Confirmation and extension of the undulatory theory; – Book X. History of Thermotics and Atmology; 1. The doctrines of conduction and radiation; 2. The laws of changes occasioned by heat; 3. The relation of vapour and air; 4. Physical theories of heat.


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Dernière mise à jour : Jeudi 21 octobre 2021