The wave or pulse theory of light
Christiaan Huygens, 1690
HUYGENS, Christiaan (1629-1695). Traité de la lumière. Leiden: Pierre vander Aa, 1690.

First edition of Huygenss groundbreaking wave or pulse theory of light. Although Huygens first developed his theory in the 1670s, he did not publish until after the appearance of Newton's Principia in 1687—and a visit with Newton himself in 1689. His wave theory of light was in opposition to the corpuscular theory of light advanced by Newton (although modern physics has since reconciled both theories). “Huygens conceived of light as an irregular series of shock waves or pulses proceeding with very great but finite velocity through the ether, a medium consisting of uniformly minute, elastic particles pressed closely together…light, therefore, consists not of a transference of matter, but rather of a ‘tendency to move'” (Norman). Issue with the author’s initials, identified by Norman as the “probable first state.” Dibner 146; Norman 1139.

Quarto (198 x 153mm). General title printed in red and black, separate title to part 2. Woodcut device on both titles, numerous woodcut diagrams in the text (a few small marginal repaired closed tears). Contemporary vellum, title in ink on spine (small chip from spine, ink faded).
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