In his essentially descriptive discussion of gravity MacLaurin ranges over planetary orbits, vortices and theology. His discussion of collisions includes a disputatious account of what should be understood by the force of a moving body, a contentious topic at the time. The essay on the tides has the original version of his celebrated theorem on the equilibrium of a spheroidal fluid mass and employs a remarkable combination of geometry and calculus to determine forces of attraction.
The aim is to make this material more generally accessible to researchers and students in mathematics and physics, and indeed to anyone with an interest in the historical development of these subjects. A general introduction puts the works in context and gives an outline of MacLaurin's career. Each translation is then accompanied by an introduction and a series of notes andappendices in which individual results are analysed, both in modern terms and from a historical point of view. Background material is also provided.
General Introduction.- General Introduction.- MacLaurin on Gravity.- to Part I.- Translation of MacLaurin's Dissertation.- MacLaurin on Collisions.- to Part II.- Translation of MacLaurin's Essay.- MacLaurin on the Tides.- to Part III.- Translation of MacLaurin's Essay.
Ian Tweddle is a proven Springer author, having already contributed two books to the Sources and Studies series: Simon on Porisms (306-5, published 2000), and Methodus Differentialis (723-0, published 2003). Of these three books, this one will have the widest appeal.
From the reviews: "Anyone seriously interested in Colin Maclaurin (1698-1746) or in eighteenth-century mathematical physics will welcome this book. ... the assiduous reader will be rewarded in many ways, both by working through Tweddle's introductions, notes, and appendices, and by reading Maclaurin's own words in Tweddle's clear and accurate translations. I find the book refreshing ... we have the result of years of profound study and deliberation, careful textual analysis, and sound understanding and explanation of the relevant mathematics and physics." (Judith V. Grabiner, MathDL, January, 2007)