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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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Reception, extension and impact

Reception, extension and impact

(p.278) 27 Reception, extension and impact
Mechanistic Images in Geometric Form


Oxford University Press

Heinrich Hertz's book Principles of Mechanics aroused widespread interest in the physics and, to a certain degree, the mathematics community. When Hertz died, his book received much attention. It was perceived as a culmination of the search for a mechanics without distance forces, but its popularity also owed something to the tragic fate of its author. The early commentators agreed, to a large extent, in their evaluation of Hertz's book. Among the merits they counted its philosophical sophistication, the rigorous and elegant mathematical structure, and the avoidance of forces acting at a distance. As its main weakness, they mentioned its complete neglect of the question of how to construct the hidden systems that would account for the observed motions in the physical world. The published receptions of Hertz's book can be divided into three main categories: reviews, philosophical reflections, and works in which Hertz's ideas were used or carried further.

Keywords:   mechanics, physics, mathematics, distance forces, hidden systems

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