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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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Hertz’ s geometry of systems of points

Hertz’ s geometry of systems of points

(p.159) 13 Hertz’ s geometry of systems of points
Mechanistic Images in Geometric Form


Oxford University Press

The relation between mechanics and geometry has changed dramatically over the last 350 years. The first physicist who used differential geometry in mechanics was Heinrich Hertz, and other physicists seem to have learned about it from his book Principles of Mechanics. In fact, one can argue that the geometric formalism was to be the most lasting innovation of Hertz's book. This chapter explains Hertz's geometry of systems of points and discusses two questions related to it: why he chose to present his mechanics in a geometric form, and how he initially constructed this geometry. This chapter also discusses Hertz's concepts of direction, angle, and curvature.

Keywords:   geometry, mechanics, systems of points, direction, angle, curvature, geometric form

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