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Mechanistic Images in Geometric FormHeinrich Hertz's 'Principles of Mechanics'$
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Jesper Lützen

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780198567370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198567370.001.0001

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Time, space and mass

Time, space and mass

(p.127) 11 Time, space and mass
Mechanistic Images in Geometric Form


Oxford University Press

Heinrich Hertz introduced the three fundamental concepts of his mechanics — time, space, and mass — at the beginning of his book Principles of Mechanics. This chapter analyses Hertz's concepts of space beginning with pure geometry and ending with applied geometry, and in particular the problematic connection between them. In particular, it explores how Hertz could attribute a-priori status to Euclidean geometry, even though he was familiar with the recent development of non-Euclidean geometries. A look at Hertz's conception of space and geometry sheds light on his introduction of a ‘geometry of systems of points’. His introduction(s) of the concept of mass, however, raises a lot of interesting questions. One of them concerns the notion of Massenteilchen from which all matter is build up, another concerns the concept of concealed masses, and a third concerns Hertz's coordinative rule stating that mass is determined by weighing.

Keywords:   mechanics, time, space, mass, Euclidean geometry, concealed masses, coordinative rule, applied geometry, pure geometry

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