1st PUBLICATION OF CLAIRAUT'S THEOREM THAT THE EARTH IS AN OBLATE ROTATIONAL ELLIPSOID
Title: Theorie de la figure de la terre, tirée des ...
Publisher: chez David Fils,, A Paris
Publication Date: 1743
Book Condition: Very Good
8vo. xl, 305,  printed pages. With numerous mathematical vignette diagrams on wood and an allegorical vignette in copper on the title page. Sporadic light foxing. Leaf I8 is repeated, the second version includes the words "au poids de" replacing "a"- so it is a corrigenda leaf. Small, marginal, red ink library stamp on title page and page 19. "7414" and "BV" unobtrusively stamped in margins of title page and page iii. 15 x 22 cm. Contemporary full vellum. Light green leather label with gilt lettering & tooling on spine. Later paper library shelf label below. In very good condition. Fore edge and lower edge uncut. Provenance: sold by Collegio Universitario Antonianum - Padova to Antiquariato Librario Bado e Mart s.a.s. and then to a private UK collector (copy of 2015 Italian antique export license available). Established in 1222, the University of Padua (Padova in Italian) is the second oldest university in Italy, after Bologna, and one of the earliest universities in the world. It was originally founded as a school of law by a group of scholars and students who had come from Bologna in pursuit of greater academic freedom. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 1543), Polish mathematician and astronomer, who placed the Sun at centre of the Solar System, had attended this Unversity two hundred years earlier. First edition of Clairaut's most famous work (1713-1765), in which the mathematician exposes the theory of the hydrostatic shape of the earth. Clairaut was part of the mission in Lapland funded by the Berlin Academy of Sciences and led by Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis (1698-1759) in the years 1736 and 1737, in order to carry out the concrete observations to measure the length of a degree of latitudemnear the North Pole that would define the shape of the earth. It was due to this book, Clairaut's most famous work, that he was able to conclude the long series of debates dividing the contemporary world into two camps: the Cartesians who believed in the elongation of the earth, and the Newtonians who adhered to the theory of the flattening at the poles. Indeed, by participating in these geodesic measurements, Clairaut contributes to confirming Newton's predictions: but even more, the mathematician manages to calculate the amount of this flattening. Not satisfied with these conclusions, however considerable, Clairaut sensed the importance of the results that mechanics could bring to this problem, which he demonstrates in his Theory of the figure of the earth. In doing so, he had to renew a very new part of the mechanics, namely the hydrostatics. Clairaut read his work at the Royal Academy of Sciences from December 13, 1741 and the edition was shared between the booksellers Durand and David. "It was to some degree the theoretical epilogue to the Lapland expedition and to the series of polemics on the earth's shape (.) It was also in this work, considered a scientific classic, that the formula named for Clairaut, expressing the earth's gravity as a function of latitude, is found "(DSB). Bibliotheca Mechanica p.72. Graesse ii:190. Poggendorff i:447. DSB III, 282. Taton 29 bis. Pierre Brunet, "The life and work of Clairaut (continued)". Journal of the History of Science. Year 1952. T. 5-4, pp. 334-349. Bookseller Inventory # 4486