Celestial mechanics

In mechanics, celestial mechanics is the study of the motions of and forces between the celestial bodies, generally based on the laws of motion, the law of gravitation, with refinements coming from the general theory of relativity. [1]

French physicist Pierre Laplace coined the term “celestial mechanics” in 1799. [3] This, supposedly, was a more specific variant of what English physicit Isaac Newton had called “rational mechanics”, in regards to the work he had done. [4]

The following are related quotes:

“'Mecanique sociale' may one day take her place along with 'mecanique celeste', throned each upon the double-sided height of one maximum principle [principles of Lagrange], the supreme pinnacle of moral as of physical science. As the movements of each particle, constrained or loose, in a material cosmos are continually subordinated to one maximum sum-total of accumulated energy, so the movements of each soul, whether selfishly isolated or linked sympathetically, may continually be realising the maximum energy of pleasure. Mecanique sociale, in comparison with her elder sister, is less attractive to the vulgar worshipper in that she is discernible by the eye of faith alone. The statuesque beauty of the one is manifest; but the fairylike features of the other and her fluent form are veiled. But mathematics has long walked by the evidence of things not seen in the world of atoms (the methods whereof, it may incidentally be remarked, statistical and rough, may illustrate the possibility of social mathematics). The invisible energy of electricity is grasped by the marvellous methods of Lagrange; the invisible energy of pleasure may admit of a similar handling.”
Francis Edgeworth (1881), Mathematical Psychics: an Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences

“The recurrence during the eighteenth century Enlightenment of the aspiration to be the ‘Newton of the moral sciences’ testifies to the prestige not just of celestial mechanics, but of the ‘experimental method’ more generally.”
— Stefan Collini (1993), ‘Introduction’ to C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures [2]

1. Daintith, John. (2005). Oxford Dictionary of Science. Oxford University Press.
2. Collini, Stefan. (1993). “Introduction”, in: The Two Cultures (by Charles Snow) (pg. x). Canto.
3. Fitzpatrick, Richard. (2012). An Introduction to Celestial Mechanics (pg. ix). Cambridge University Press.
4. Celestial mechanics – Wikipedia.

TDics icon ns

More pages