On Mon, Jul 19, 2004 at 12:34:04PM +0200, Ivo Schneider wrote: > > > Eric Temple Bell, Men of Mathematics, quotes Laplace as telling > > Napoleon "Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis" after the > > latter had remarked on the absence of the author of the universe > > in Laplace's Mecanique Celeste. On the web we find
Napoleon: You have written this huge book on the system of the world without once mentioning the author of the universe. Laplace: Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis.
Later when told by Napoleon about the incident, Lagrange commented: Ah, but that is a fine hypothesis. It explains so many things. [DeMorgan's _Budget of Paradoxes_]
Many history of math books tell this tale about Laplace and his Mecanique Celeste, some with quotations in French. -- Paul Vitanyi, CWI, Kruislaan 413, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Tel. (+)31 20 5924124; Fax (+)31 20 5924199; email@example.com; http://www.cwi.nl/~paulv/