Action and Reaction: Proceedings of a Symposium to Commemorate the Tercentenary of Newton's Principia
This volume grows out of a symposium commemorating the three-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, held at the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution in 1987. Widely acknowledged to be the most important scientific work ever published, the 1687 Principia contains the first complete statement of principles that were to govern physical science into the nineteenth century
Presented here is a sampling of the best current scholarship on the Principia, its context, and its influence. The essays reflect the depth of inquiry and diversity of research that have characterized the last generation of work on Newton.
The volume opens with an essay by Richard S. Westfall that justifies claims that Newton was the "culmination of the scientific revolution." The I. Bernard Cohen essay that follows illustrates the difference between "mathematical principles" and "natural philosophy." Two complementary papers give new insights into the Newtonian foundations of celestial mechanics: William Harper analyzes Newton's argument for universal gravitation from the perspective of a philosopher of science; Michael S. Mahoney discusses the mathematical aspects of Newton's use of force law to determine planetary orbits.
B. J. T. Dobbs uses her research on alchemy to develop an integrated view of Newton's work, while P. E. Spargo explores the alchemistic theme in his paper on chemical experiments. Studies of comets are linked to the seventeenth-century political context in a novel way by Simon Schaffer. Anita Guerrini proves that Newton's concepts of the structure of matter and ether inspired speculations about the nature of insanity, while Norriss Hetherington shows that Newton's formulation of natural laws served as an inspirational model for Adam Smith's formulation of economic laws.
Arthur Donovan argues that Lavoisier's formulation of chemistry was not carried out in imitation of Newtonian natural philosophy but initiated a new tradition of "positive science." Frank Wilczek looks back from the perspective of contemporary physics and sees the seeds of modern ideas about transformations in Newton's admittedly speculative Queries. The volume concludes with a short overview by Dudley Shapere.
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Page 14 - the Principia, is that of the principle of universal gravitation, that every particle of matter in the universe is attracted by, or gravitates to every other particle of matter, with a force inversely proportional to the squares of their distances.
Page 19 - is what gives the false suggestion of his being an experimental natural philosopher), but also partly in certain papers and traditions handed down by the brethren in an unbroken chain back to the original cryptic revelation in Babylonia. He regarded the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty.