Chapter

A Revolutionary Science

in When Physics Became King

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780226542010
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226542003 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226542003.003.0002
A Revolutionary Science

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This chapter discusses the rise of mathematical physics in revolutionary France at the beginning of the century and the emergence there of new analytical styles of reasoning about nature. Radical young mathematicians in England such as Charles Babbage and John Herschel looked enviously on at the great strides achieved in revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, they regarded their alma mater as a reactionary backwater—in both political and scientific terms. Following the revolution, French scientific institutions were overturned, as ancient institutions as well as heads toppled to the ground. The chapter then follows efforts to develop new institutions and new ways of training mathematical physicists in England and the German states to midcentury and beyond.

Keywords: physics; mathematical physics; revolutionary France; training; physicists

Chapter.  12734 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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