Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
The Mechanism of the Heavens
Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749–1827)
Mechanism of the Heavens, The, by Pierre Simon Laplace. The first two volumes of this remarkable work were published in 1799, the third appeared in 1803, the fourth in 1805, and the fifth in 1825. The author has set forth in one homogeneous work the leading results which had been separately achieved by his predecessors, at the same time proving their harmony and interdependence. The entire work is divided into sixteen books, treating of: The General Laws of Equilibrium and Motion; The Law of Universal Gravity; The Form of the Heavenly Bodies; The Oscillation of the Sea, and of the Atmosphere; The Movement of the Heavenly Bodies on their Axes; The Theory of Planetary Movements; The Theory of the Moon; The Satellites of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus; Comets; The Form and Rotation of the Earth; Attraction and Repulsion of the Spheres; The Laws of Equilibrium and Movements of Fluids; The Oscillation of Fluids that cover the Planets; The Movement of Planets and Comets; and The Movement of Satellites. The work is very diffuse, and it is said that the author found himself at times obliged to devote an hour’s labor to recovering the lost links in the chain of reasoning covered by the recurring formula, “It is easy to see.” ‘The Exposition of the System of the World,’ by the same author, is a more popular dissertation on the same subject, disembarrassed of the analytical paraphernalia of the greater work. It has been truly said that Laplace was not properly an astronomer, but rather belonged to that class of savants who, neglecting direct observation of phenomena, depend upon the observations of others, and discover by force of calculation and meditation those great laws of which the patient researches of observers have shown the elements, without suspecting the principle.  1
  Translated by Mrs. Mary Somerville in England, and by Nathaniel Bowditch in America.  2

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