Unrolling Time: Christiaan Huygens and the Mathematization of Nature

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Overview

This case study examines the interrelationship between mathematics and physics in the work of one of the major figures of the Scientific Revolution, the Dutch mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Professor Yoder offers a detailed account of the discoveries that Huygens made at the end of 1659, including the invention of a pendulum clock that theoretically kept absolutely uniform time, and the creation of a mathematical theory of evolutes. She also describes the way that each of these important discoveries arose from the interaction of Huygens' mathematics and physics. A discussion of Huygens' relationship with other scientists and the priority disputes that sometimes motivated his research help place his work in the context of the period. The reception of Huygens' masterpiece, the Horologium Oscillatorium of 1673 and the place of evolutes in the history of mathematics are also analyzed. Finally, the role of Huygens in the rise of applied mathematics is addressed.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
This case study examines the interrelationship between mathematics and physics in the work of the Dutch mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Yoder details the invention of a pendulum clock that theoretically beat absolutely uniform time, to measure the constant of gravitational acceleration, to analyze centrifugal force, and to create the mathematical theory of evolutes. In the second half of the book, Dr. Yoder places Huygen's work in the context of his time and analyzes his part in the rise of applied mathematics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"In her account of Huygen's mathematical reasonings, Yoder achieves an admirable combination of clarity and concision with faithfulness to the original. Her book casts a new and clear light on a mid-seventeenth-century phase of the scientific revolution." The Eighteenth Century

"...a significant contribution to scholarship on Huygens and to our understanding of scientific thinking in his time." Choice

"...an enlightening, sometimes surprising account fo the 'beautiful, intricate display of creativity.'" Perceptual and Motor Skills

"...Yoder has written a little gem of modern history of science at its scholarly best...it deserves to be read outside the confines of that discipline." Contemporary Physics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521524810
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2003
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. Accelerated motion: gravity; 3. Accelerated motion: curvilinear fall; 4. Evolutes; 5. Curvature; 6. Rectification; 7. Diversions; 8. Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
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