Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1873. First edition in book form. Hardcover. Quarto. , 450, , 495, pp. Original full cloth with gold lettering and ruling on spines. In 1873, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau published this two-volume work summarizing his decades of research into soap bubbles and related phenomena due to surface tension. Entitled "Statique Expérimentale et Théorique des Liquides Soumis aux Seules Forces Moléculaires," it has become an inspiration for generations of mathematicians and phycists. The two parts in fact collect all of Plateau's work on experiments about surface tension in liquids, published between 1842 and 1868 in the form of 11 "mémoires". Though less known to the larger public, this research is in fact a lot more important than any of Plateau's perception experiments. In this work, Plateau wonders which are the forces that generate the spherical form.
Since no gravity acts on the sphere, molecular forces dominate the process. Plateau proves experimentally that these act in a very thin surface layer. He knows (from Laplace's theory) that a liquid, standing on itself, exerts a force on each point of the surface equal to a constant (which depends on the liquid) multiplied by the mean curvature of the surface in that point. A number of equilibrium surfaces can thus arise. In the first place the sphere, as in Plateau's experiment, but also the cylinder and the flat plane. Plateau finds three other surfaces of revolution that follow these laws: the onduloid, the nodoid and the catenoid (names given by Plateau).
This work contains numerous charts and 105 in-text figs. Moderate sunning on spines and along edges. Head and tail of spines slightly chipped. Minor age-toning along paper margin. Text in French. Binding in overall good- to good, interior in good+ to very good condition. g+. Item #35675