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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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A biographical survey

A biographical survey

(p.50) 5 A biographical survey
Mechanistic Images in Geometric Form


Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a brief biography of Heinrich Hertz with particular emphasis on those elements that relate to his work on the Principles of Mechanics. It includes his childhood and student years in Germany from 1857 to 1883, his tenure as a Privat Dozent in Kiel in 1883-1885, as a professor in Karlsruhe from 1885 to 1889, and as a professor in Bonn from 1889 to 1894. Joseph Louis Lagrange's Mécanique Analytique made Hertz reflect on the principles of mechanics and the concepts of force, time, space and motion. These reflections later matured in his last published work. He also studied Pierre-Simon Laplace's Mécanique Céleste, Jean-étienne Montucla's history of mathematics and original papers by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Moreover, he enjoyed Alfred Pringsheim's lectures on elliptic functions. In 1878, Hertz decided to move to Berlin to continue his studies at the university where Hermann von Helmholtz had established the leading physics laboratory in Germany.

Keywords:   biography, childhood, mechanics, Germany, force, time, space, motion, Hermann von Helmholtz

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