HIS 322D Nov_18 - HIS 322D Today The Roots of Newtons...

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HIS 322D November 18, 2011 Today: The Roots of Newton’s Principia Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica – Published in 1687. It was regarded as the greatest single scientific work of all time, or in competition with Origin of Species as the greatest. It was an enormous intellectual achievement. It was a mathematically precise account for the Earth and for the universe. It laid the foundation for a lot of subsequent work in physics. It also provided a model of work for people in other sciences. Newton’s achievement in this was very impressive and won a lot of praise in England and in Europe. Not immediately, but very soon. Newton was a national hero, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The Principia was also a culmination of Newton’s own career. Before this, Newton published very little. His reflecting telescope was known, and his little papers on light and color. Little bits of his math were circulated without being published. Before this publication, he was not a major scientific figure. There weren’t many readers of Principia . It was in Latin and had very difficult mathematics. But it had a very deep effect through people who did read it and understood it, and then translated this. What is Newton doing between 1666 and 1687? Why did he not go straight from here to writing up Principia ? He was never driven by desire for fame and public notice. He was trying to figure out God’s secrets, and how the world works. He’s looking at different areas and subjects to do this. In the late 1666s, he turned largely to light and color and optics. And then his interest turned very sharply to theology and alchemy. Newton left behind huge amounts of manuscripts – he had over a million words on alchemy. This was more than his surviving notes on mathematics and physics. He devoted most of his time in 1670s and early 1680s to alchemy. He did many experiments with this. He built his own workshop, furnaces, and did his own experiments. These weren’t just hobbies for him; Newton took things very seriously when he started them. How did these affect his physics? There is pretty good evidence that it did in some ways. Newton
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HIS 322D Nov_18 - HIS 322D Today The Roots of Newtons...

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