Newton has it pretty well right here – Laplace’s Mecanique Celeste is arguably the most important book in astronomical physics between Newton’s Principia and Einstein’s relativity papers. He pushed calculus as an analytical tool beyond the wildest dreams of his contemporaries, contributed to probability theory, and proved the stability of the solar system after the greatest minds of Europe had failed to do so over the course of a century. Unfortunately, all most people tend to remember him for these days is that he might have told Napoleon that God was not a hypothesis his celestial system had a need for. He wasn’t the humblest or nicest guy around, but then Newton wasn’t either (though Lagrange was a total mensch, by all accounts, so we can’t generalize that all great mathematicians were sort of douchy). In short, he’s due for a revival, so go out, get your hands on a copy of the FIVE VOLUMES of Celestial Mechanics, and dig on in!
– Count Dolby von Luckner