The first blog entirely devoted to the history of physics.

Anecdotes, philosophical issues, great discoveries, and much more from first-hand participants.


Monday, October 3, 2011

The mathematization of physics

''Our starting point will be the publication of Newton's Principia which marks, conceptually, a radical departure from the then dominant tradition of mechanical philosophy. We defend the thesis that by taking the mathematical route to natural philosophy Newton initiated, or at least accelerated, a series of social, epistemological and even ontological consequences which over the course of a century, redefined the legitimate practice of physics. As we will see, these consequences were indirect and often only confusedly perceived by the actors involved but led finally to the state of affairs we now generally take for granted: that physics is mathematical in its formulation. Far from being obvious, this idea was long debated over the 18th and even the first half of the 19th century as more and more domains of physics lent themselves to mathematical formulations.''

In Gringas, ''What Did Mathematics Do to Physics'', p. 8.

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