# Commercium Philosophicum et Mathematicum; [Correspondence Philosophical and Mathematical]

Lausannæ & Genève: Marci–Michaelis Bousquet, 1745. First Edition. Hardcover. 2 vols. 1st edition (in Latin). Contemporary half calf, rebacked, small stamp “Bibl: Publ Basileensis” on the verso of each title page, else very good, complete with all plates and the portrait that’s sometimes lacking, but this is Biblioctopus, so it’s best and cheapest, the easiest twin touchstones to access; because the differences between a decent seller of books and one successfully posing as a decent seller, are superficially negligible. Ex–Désiré Roustan (the French philosopher). Very good. Item #429

Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) was a German mathematician who conceived differential and integral calculus independent of, and simultaneously with, Isaac Newton, and though Leibniz’s notation (dx and dy) was always deemed superior, Newton’s notoriety swept him aside, kicked him down a dark alley into the abyss, and then bricked up the entranceway. But Leibniz’s inner fires were never dampened by disappointment, so he didn’t outlive his enthusiasm. He developed his laws of continuity and homogeneity, and many inventions in mechanical calculators. In 1673 he designed the Leibniz wheel used in the arithmometer and in 1685 he described a pinwheel calculator. So Bernoulli (the extra “i” at the end of his name on the title page is an 18th century affectation) wrote this book to resurrect Leibniz from obscurity, and Leibniz did get a fame bump, but not until the 20th century when his work with binary numbers was rediscovered and put to use as a foundation for computers, reminding us that there are 3 sorts of people. Those who can do math and those who can’t.

This book was a vital adjustment to the history of calculus, and thus the history of math, but it’s a laborious and dry read, slower than being stoned to death with popcorn, and having all the thrills of a coma without the worry and inconvenience. What’s less dry, but has been taking scientists too long to figure out, is a unifying formula for the clash between the cosmic (general relativity) and the atomic (quantum mechanics), to give physicists (they know our whole story except for the first paragraph), what they call, a theory of everything. So, in thinking about Sgr A*, I did it this morning, and pass it along: li (c) = ns^2.

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