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FISICA E «FILOSOFIA NATURALE» IN RIEMANN

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<title> SUMMARY </title>The aim of many eighteenth century «natural philosophers» - cartesians, leibnizians and newtonians - was to formulate a theory able to explain the propagation of physical phenomena. They conceived the universe as being filled with an incompressible fluid (ether) whose deformations allowed for the transmission of forces through spaces. These attempts continued throughout the nineteenth century.Riemann's writings on «Naturphilosophie», dating most probably from 1853-54, can be regarded in this context as a search for a unified explanation of physical phenomena. In these writings Riemann studies the state of a single particle of ether, and analyses locally the space around it. The passage from «local» to «global» constitutes the research method adopted by Riemann in his famous Inauguraldissertation (1851) and Habilitationsschrift (1854a), and in other papers on the propagation of electricity within a body (1854b, 1857a, 1876c). From this point of view it is possible to include Riemann's mathematical and physical writings, apparently fragmentary, in a wide-ranging research program (never brought to conclusion), which leads to the formulation of an unified theory of physical doctrines.

Affiliations: 1: Dipartimento di Matematica - Università di Bologna

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/content/journals/10.1163/182539183x00055
1993-01-01
2016-12-09

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