Synopses & Reviews
Representing a decade's work from one of the world's most distinguished physicists, this major publication is, as far as is known, the first comprehensive analysis of Newton's Principia without recourse to secondary sources. Chandrasekhar analyses some 150 propositions which form a direct chain leading to Newton's formulation of his universal law of gravitation. In each case, Newton's proofs are arranged in a linear sequence of equations and arguments, avoiding the need to unravel the necessarily convoluted style of Newton's connected prose. In almost every case, a modern version of the proofs is given to bring into sharp focus the beauty, clarity, and breathtaking economy of Newton's methods. This book will stimulate great interest and debate among the scientific community, illuminating the brilliance of Newton's work under the steady gaze of Chandrasekhar's rare perception.
Review
"It is, perhaps, the greatest single work of the scientific canon--and undoubtedly the most influential. . .Yet remarkably few people today, even among physicists and engineers, have read the Principia itself. . .That a book of such importance should go unread seemed a pity to the astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who spent a lifetime bringing clarity to the world. Chandra, as he was known to his colleagues, was the last of the great mathematical astrophysicists, a direct spiritual descendant of Newton's, and, by any measure, one of the great minds of the twentieth century. His work was marked by the purity of his mathematical vision, the depth of his understanding and the elegance of his speech and writing. . .Chandra's death in August has left the world a poorer place, but this, his last volume, will remain to inspire generations of common readers to come." --The Sciences
"Following a long tradition of commentaries and explanation of Newton's great masterpiece, Chandrasekhar's new book, Newton's Principia for the Common Reader is a very valuable personal view by one of the great astrophysicists of our century."--American Journal of Physics
"This is a valuable guide to the Principia--certainly beyond the level of the "common reader"--that will take its place in the succession of major commentaries on the Principia of the past three centuries."--Physics Today
"In almost every case, a modern version of the proof is given to bring into sharp focus the beauty, clarity and breathtaking economy of Newton's methods . . . . This book will stimulate great interest and debate among the scientific community, illuminating the brilliance of Newton's work."--Mathematical Reviews
Table of Contents
Prologue
1. The beginnings and the writing of the Principia
2. Basic concepts: definition and axioms
3. On the notion of limits and the ratios of evanescent quantities
4. On the motion of particles under centripetal attraction: an introduction to Newton's treatment
5. The law of areas and some relations which follow
6. The motion of bodies along conic sections
7. Kepler's equation and its solution
8. The rectilinear ascent and descent of bodies
9. The conservation of energy and the initial value problem
10. On revolving orbits
11. A pause
12. The two-body problem
13. The method of the variations of the elements of a Kepler orbit and Newton's lunar theory: an introduction to propositions LXV-LXIX
14. The three body problem: the foundations of Newton's lunar theory
15. The superb theorems
16. Attraction by non-spherical bodies
17. A digression into Opticks
18. Prolegomenon
19. The universal law of gravitation
20. The figure of the earth and of the planets
21. On the theory of tides
22. The lunar theory
23. The precession of the equinoxes
24. On the comets
25. The effect of air-drag on the descent of bodies
26. The solid of least resistance
27. The problem of the brachistochrone
28. The velocity of sound and long waves in canals