Traité de la Lumiere. Où sont expliquées les Causes de ce qui luy arrive dans la Reflexion, & dans la Refraction. Et particulierement dan l'etrange Refraction du Cristal d'Islande...Avec un Discours de la Cause de la Pesanteur.

Woodcut device on general & divisional titles and numerous woodcut diagrams & illus. in the text. General title printed in red & black. 4 p.l., 124, [2], 125-128, [2], 129-180 pp. 4to, cont. vellum over boards. Leyden: P. vanderAa, 1690.

First edition of one of the great classics of optics. This book contains Huygens’ classical formulation of optical phenomena in terms of the wave theory of light, opposing the corpuscular theory advanced by Newton. Huygens showed how all points of a wave front originate partial waves and thereby propagate further wave motion. Thus reflection and refraction of light could also be explained. By the same means the complicated phenomena of double refraction and the polarization by double refraction were also explained. Huygens’ wave theory of light remained unaccepted for over 100 years until Thomas Young used it to explain optical interference.

The second part of this book — the Discours de la Cause de la Pesanteur — contains Huygens’ mechanical explanation of gravity. His “point of view was that gravity should not be attributed to a quality or propensity of bodies, but should be explained, like every other natural process, in terms of motion.”–Wolf, I, p. 164.

This copy belongs to the issue in which Huygens’ initials are on the title rather than his full name (no priority established).

A fine and fresh copy.

❧ Dibner, Heralds of Science, 146. En Français dans le Texte 125. Evans, First Editions of Epochal Achievements in the History of Science (1934), 32. Horblit 54. Sparrow, Milestones of Science, 111.

Price: $55,000.00

Item ID: 1242

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