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Topic: [HM] Laplace Quotation
Replies: 5   Last Post: Aug 4, 2004 12:12 AM

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Paul Vitanyi

Posts: 30
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] Laplace Quotation
Posted: Jul 22, 2004 9:43 AM
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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
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;;

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