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In the book The Norton History of Astronomy and Cosmology by the late John North I have found the following statement (page 514):

"The German mathematician Lejeune Dirichlet studied the law of gravitation in non-Euclidean space towards the end of 1850."

Does anyone perhaps know more about that?

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This is almost certainly a reference to solving the Laplace equation for the Green's function on a curved surface (but I'll let someone familiar with the relevant literature say for sure), given the general topics that were hot at the time. The closest predecessor to GR is in the mid-late 19th century, with Riemann. – Ron Maimon Nov 12 '12 at 22:01

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