Infinitesimal Steps

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Science  19 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5405, pp. 1122
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5405.1122

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Reasoning with the Infinite From the Closed World to the Mathematical Universe. Michel Blay. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998. 226 pp. $30, £25.95. ISBN 0-226-05834-4.

The French historian Blay's examination of the emergence of a mathematical physics (the analysis of nature in terms of quantitative laws that allow predictions based on mathematical reason) focuses on lesser known figures (Fontenelle, Wronski) rather than on the more successful efforts of more influential practitioners (Euler, Lagrange, Laplace, Cauchy).