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Galileo UnboundA Path Across Life, the Universe and Everything$
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David D. Nolte

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198805847

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198805847.001.0001

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On the Shoulders of Giants

On the Shoulders of Giants

Chapter:
(p.64) Chapter 4 On the Shoulders of Giants
Source:
Galileo Unbound
Author(s):

David D. Nolte

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198805847.003.0004

Galileo’s parabolic trajectory launched a new approach to physics that was taken up by a new generation of scientists like Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke and Edmund Halley. The English Newtonian tradition was adopted by ambitious French iconoclasts who championed Newton over their own Descartes. Chief among these was Pierre Maupertuis, whose principle of least action was developed by Leonhard Euler and Joseph Lagrange into a rigorous new science of dynamics. Along the way, Maupertuis became embroiled in a famous dispute that entangled the King of Prussia as well as the volatile Voltaire who was mourning the death of his mistress Emilie du Chatelet, the lone female French physicist of the eighteenth century.

Keywords:   Newton, Hooke, Halley, Maupertuis, Voltaire, du Chatelet, Fermat’s Principle, variational principle, Lagrange, Lagrangian Mechanics, Euler

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