pp 1–4 | Cite as

…and three centuries of steam power

Alan Chalmers: One hundred years of pressure: Hydrostatics from Stevin to Newton. Dordrecht: Springer, 2017, ix+197pp, €99.99 HB
  • Keith HutchisonEmail author

When I started reading One hundred years of pressure, I had no idea what messages the book was to pursue. I imagined indeed I was about to begin a relatively bland tour of one of the minor backwaters of the Scientific Revolution. By the time I finished, I had a completely different opinion: the emergence of mature hydrostatics in seventeenth-century Europe was one of the very biggest events in the economic history of the world. This is not, however, an interpretation of his book articulated by its author. Explaining, and beginning to justify, it will be the prime task of the review below.

My interest in the book was quickly sparked, but by something quite different, its overt focus on a number of philosophical conundrums that had puzzled early investigators (3–5). Terrestrial water pressure is obviously generated by gravity, yet it can readily exert a force far greater than the weight of the water involved. And though gravity acts downwards, it is routine for water to exert a...


Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical StudiesUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations