SINCE the publication of Thomson and Tait's “Natural Philosophy,” thirteen years ago, an important change in the treatment of the theory of dynamics has been making rapid progress. Previous to that time it was the almost universal practice to follow the French writers and to find a basis for the theory of the equilibrium of forces independent of any consideration of motion. Force was often defined to be that which caused or tended to cause motion; but the theory of the combination and resolution of forces was founded on certain assumed axioms about the properties of forces without further reference to the effect by which force was described. The proof of the parallelogram of forces was to most beginners such a formidable pons asinorum that the broad conception that velocities, accelerations, and forces acting at given points were all fully represented by vectors, and that each could be added just in the same way as the vectors which represented them, was not soon grasped by the mind. Consideration of the fundamental principles of dynamics and of the philosophic position of the first law of motion, which at the same time defines the measure of time and states a law of nature, was avoided, and the theory of the motion of matter became a development of the equations of statics.
Treatise on Statics.
By George Minchin Second. Edition. (Clarendon Press Series.)
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Treatise on Statics . Nature 22, 52–53 (1880). https://doi.org/10.1038/022052a0