Paris: 1798. FIVE VOLUME FIRST EDITION SETOF LAPLACE'S FUNDAMENTAL WORK ON CELESTIAL MECHANICS & IN WHICH HE DEPICTS THE UNIVERSE AS A “GREAT SELF-REGULATING MACHINE” (Printing & the Mind of Man 252). First edition of one of the most important scientific works since Newton's "Principia.” Five volumes bound as four – all first editions; all supplements present except the fifth. Includes folding plate in volume four.
Laplace was the first to place astronomy on a modern mathematical footing, reformulating classical mechanics in terms of the calculus rather than the geometric constructions used by Newton. “Laplace’s system of celestial mechanics (a term he coined) marked an advance over that of Newton, who had posited the necessity of a Deity in the universe to correct planetary irregularities; Laplace, on the other hand, when asked by Napoleon why his system contained no mention of the Creator, replied ‘I had no need of such a hypothesis’” (Norman, History of Science 1277).
“Published over a period of 27 years, Laplace's monumental Traite de Mécanique Celeste “codified and further developed the theories and achievements of Newton, Euler, d'Alembert, and Lagrange” (Christie’s June 2008 Catalogue). In the tradition of Newton's Principia, Laplace ...”applied his analytical mathematical theories to celestial bodies and concluded that the apparent changes in the motion of planets and their satellites are changes of long periods, and that the solar system is in all probability very stable" (Dibner). The first four volumes of this work appeared from 1799 through 1805 and contain the laws of mechanics and their application to the motions and figures of the heavenly bodies. The final parts of the fourth volume and the entire fifth volume contain important material on physics not already included in the original sequence” (ibid).
“Laplace maintained that while all planets revolve round the sun their eccentricities and the inclinations of their orbits to each other will always remain small. He also showed that all these irregularities in movements and positions in the heavens were self-correcting, so that the whole solar system appeared to be mechanically stable. He showed that the universe was really a great self-regulating machine and the whole solar system could continue on its existing plan for an immense period of time. This was a long step forward from the Newtonian uncertainties in this respect…Laplace also offered a brilliant explanation of the secular inequalities of the mean motion of the moon about the earth — a problem which Euler and Lagrange had failed to solve…He also investigated the theory of the tides and calculated from them the mass of the moon” (PMM). Item #1587
CONDITION: 4to (267 x 205 mm). 5 volumes bound in 4, with all half-titles present. Complete with all supplements except that for Vol. V. Elaborately bound set in beautiful condition, all tightly bound and in beautiful condition. Interiors retain original wide margins and save for a few bits of light toning, exceptionally bright and clean throughout. Vol. 1: xxxii, 368, . Vol. 2 [vi], 382, . Vol. 3 & 4 bound together and including three of four supplements: , xxiv, , “Supplement au Traite de mecanique celeste . . . presente au Bureau des Longitudes, le 17 aout 1808," 24, [xl], 347, [i], 2, Supplement au dixieme livre du Traite de mecanique celeste. Sur l'action capillaire, ); Fold-out plate; “Supplement a la theorie de l'action capillaire,” [1-78], 4. Vol. 5: , viii, 419, .
Volume V bears an unusual leather plate (gilt-decorated in the exact same manner as is the binding) on the front paste down. It dedicates the volume to “Robert Adrain, Presented by One Who Has Long Admired His Genius and Revered His Worth.” Also Adrain’s ownership signature, address, and date on rear flyleaf.
Milestones of Science 125; Dibner, Heralds of Science 14; Grolier/Horblit 63; Norman 1277; Printing and the Mind of Man 252.