FIRST EDITION OF MAUPERTUIS’ PRESENTATION OF THE CONDITIONS REQUIRED FOR A SYSTEM OF BODIES TO REMAIN AT REST, here showing that a system of bodies at rest tends to reach a position in which any change would create the smallest possible change in a quantity that he argued could be assimilated to action. He wrote: “If there is one constant force on all the masses, and its center is at an infinite distance from the system, the center of gravity of the system must be as far as possible from, or as near as possible to, this center, for equilibrium to subsist.”
Here “Maupertuis explicitly contrasted the Newtonian principles of mechanics with another sort of principles, which would express, according to him, ‘the law that nature follows in certain combinations of circumstances’ (Jahnke, A History of Analysis, 138; Maupertuis, La Loi du repos des corps). Maupertuis mentioned, as two known examples of these latter principles, the principle of maximal descent of the center of gravity and the principle of conservation of vis viva. Moreover, he proposed a new principle of the same sort, which he called ‘the law of rest’, expressing the conditions of equilibrium for a system of bodies acted upon by any number of central forces when these forces were directly proportional to any integral power of the distance to their centers” (ibid). Item #517
CONDITION & DETAILS: Paris: De L’imprimerie Royale. Light circular bibliotheque stamp on title page; no other ex-libris markings whatsoever. 4to (10.25 x 8; 256 x 200mm). , 631, . 29 copperplates, including 1 for the Maupertuis paper. Beautifully bound in full calf; slight and minor edgewear. 5 raised bands at the spine, gilt tooled in the compartments. 2 red morocco spine labels. Marbled endpapers. Very light toning to the preliminaries; the head of the title page is very slightly cropped, but this does not impact any text whatsoever. Handsome wide margins throughout. Near fine. The Maupertuis paper and plate are very clean.