MURDOCH, Patrick.

Mercator’s sailing, applied to the true figure of the earth. With an introduction, concerning the discovery and determination of that figure.

London: Printed for A. Millar,1741

4to, pp. xxxii, 38, (2) adverts, and 3 folding engraved plates (one shaved at foot and with a clean tear at inner edge, no loss). Early nineteenth-century russia, neatly rebacked. A very good copy.

FIRST EDITION. In Mercator's sailing, Murdoch investigates the hypothesis that the earth is not homogeneous but has a central nucleus denser than its surroundings. This he demonstrates from complex mathematical formulae from which he deduces numerical results. See Isaac Todhunter, A history of the mathematical theories of attraction and the figure of the Earth, 1873, in which Todhunter discusses Murdoch’s treatise at some length. Patrick Murdoch (died 1774), Church of England clergyman and writer, was born in Dumfries and educated at the University of Edinburgh where he distinguished himself in mathematics and was the pupil and friend of Colin Maclaurin. In 1748 Murdoch prefixed a life of Maclaurin to that writer’s Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries which Murdoch saw through the press. In 1738 he was presented with the living of Stradishall, Suffolk, and he was elected F.R.S. in 1765. Taylor, Mathematical Practitioners of Hanoverian England, pp. 213–214. Copsey, Suffolk Writers I, p. 358. A French edition appeared in the following year.


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