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HUYGENS, Christian.

(1629 – 1695)

(Born: Haag, The Netherlands, 14 April 1629; Died: Haag, The Netherlands, 8 June 1695) Dutch physicist & mathematician.

Huygens studied law and mathematics at the University of Leyden. Afterwards he traveled extensively througout Europe, living in Denmark and France before returning to The Netherlands. He dicovered the laws of centrifugal force and invented the pendulum clock in 1655. He maintained that light was moved by waves through the æther, opposing Newton's corpuscular theory. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1663.

Biographical references: ADB. Bell, A.E., Chritiaan Huygens and the Development of Dutch Science in the Seventeenth Century. London, 1947. Biografisch Woordenboek Nederland. Bos, H.J.M., et al., eds., Studies on Christiann Huygens. Lisse, Swets & Zeitlinger B.V., 1980. Costabel, P. & M. Martinet, eds., "Huygens," in: Quelques savants et amateurs de science au XVIIe siècle. Paris, 1986. DBA: I 584, 248-251. DSB: 6, 597-613. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. McKeon, R., "Le debuts de l'astronomie de precision", Physis, 13, (1971), 225-88 & 14, (1972), 221-42 [see 13, 236-41]. Poggendorff: 1, cols. 1164-5. WBI.

Traité de la Lumière , 1690

1. Latin, 1690 [First edition].
[In black:] Traité | [in red:] De La Lvmière. | [in black:] Où sont expliquées | Les causes de ce qui luy arrive | [in red:] Dans la Reflexion, & dans la | [in black:] Refraction. | Et particulierement | Dans l'etrange Refraction | [in red:] Dv Cristal D'Islande. | [in black:] Par C.H.D.Z. | Avec un Ddiscours de la Cause | [in red:] De La Pesantevr. | [in black, ornament] | A Leide, | [in red:] Chez Pierre van der Aa, Marchand Libraire. | [in black:] MDCXC.

[Title page of second part reads:]

Discovrs | De La Cavse | De La | Pesantevr. | Par C.H.D.Z. | [ornament] | A Leide, | Chez Pierre van der Aa, Marchand Libraire. | MDCXC.

4°: *4 A-P4 Q2 R-2A4; 146l.; [8], 1-124, [2], 125-128, [2], 129-180 p. Title page in red and black. Page size: 194 x 157 mm.

Contents: [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [4 pgs], Preface, dated 8 January 1690.; [2 pgs], "Table Des Matieres."; 1-124, Text.; [2 pgs], Title page of second work.; 125-128, Preface.; [2 pgs], "Table | Des Matieres | Traitées dans ce Discours."; 129-180, Text.

Rare. Classic formulation of the wave theory of light and its application to the refraction that occurs in Iceland spar represents an effective mechanistic explanation of natural phenomena. Developed by Huygens in the 1670's but published only after the appearance of Newton's Principia, it offered a characteristically mechanical reply to the mathematically based explanation of Newton. However, Huygens work made a profound impression on Newton, as can be seen in the mechanistic orientation of Newton's Opticks (London, 1704). In 1802, Thomas Young exploited Huygen's theory to explain optical interference, which would play an important role in the optical aspects of mineralogy and crystallography of the nineteenth century.

Variant issue, 1690: The work comes in two issues for which no priority as been established. Issue A as above, while issue B has the line "Par C.H.D.Z." replaced with "Par Monsieur Christian Huygens, Seigneur de Zeelhem." Both titles are reproduced in Horblit.

English transl., 1945: Treatise | On Light | In which are explained | The causes of that which occurs | In Reflexion, & in Refraction | And particularly | In the strange Refraction | Of Iceland Crystal | By Christiaan Huygens | Rendered into English | By Silvanus P. Thompson | [ornament] | The University Of Chicago Press | Chicago Illinois. Translated by Silvanus P. Thompson [see note below].

Silvanus P. Thompson. (Born: 1851; Died: 1916) English physicist. Authored numerous books and papers, mainly on experiments in light and electricity.

Bibliographical references: Dibner, Heralds of Science, 1955: no. 146. DSB: 6, 609. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 261. Honeyman Sale: 4:1730. Horblit: no. 54 & 54a. Jonathan Hill, Bookseller: cat. 100, no. 52. LKG: XVI 312. NLM 17th Century Books (Krivatsy): no. 6124. Norman Catalog: 1, ??, no. 1159. Schmitz, Handbuch zur Geschichte der Optik, 1981-90: 1, ??. Sparrow, Milestones of Science, 1972: 111. (Thompson)