Read Newton's Principia: The Mathematical Principles Of Natural Philosophy (1846) by Isaac Newton Free Online
Book Title: Newton's Principia: The Mathematical Principles Of Natural Philosophy (1846)|
The author of the book: Isaac Newton
Edition: Kessinger Publishing, LLC
Date of issue: October 17th 2007
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.68 MB
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Of course I have never read the entire text of this monumental work. I did read several parts of it in the period 1972-1974 when I was studying the History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Melbourne, and still have the two volume paperback set printed by the University of California Press in 1974 (originally published by UC in 1934).
There are a lot of mathematical proofs scattered throughout the volumes, which were mostly less interesting to me than parts I could read as simply literature in the history of ideas. The average modern reader can probably gain a lot of insight simply by paging through the Principia and stopping to read anything that looks interesting. There are a few things that are not to be missed however: the Prefaces that Newton wrote to the first three editions; the Preface to the second edition that his disciple, Roger Cotes, wrote; Newton's Definitions and Axioms, or Laws of Motion following the Prefaces; his Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy at the beginning of Book III; and, if your edition includes it, the Historical and Explanatory Appendix contributed by Florian Cajori for the 1934 UC edition.
In his lengthy and fascinating preface, Cotes lays out in layman's language, but in great detail, Newton's thinking about the philosophical questions surrounding gravity, his (Newton's) views of some of his predecessors (Boyle, Huygens, Descartes, Galileo), and hints at the proper view of God's relationship to the physical world. (This latter topic, and its relation to Newton's theory of gravity, formed the basis of the famous Leibniz-Clarke correspondence/controversy. I began to do a Master's thesis on this topic in 1974, but gave it up after returning to the States and my previous job in 1975. One of life's turning points.)
The Principia is divided into three Books. Book I: The Motion of Bodies, Book II: The Motion of Bodies (In Resisting Mediums), and Book III: The System of the World. The most accessible part of the Principia for most readers is Book III, in which we find Newton's description of the physical phenomena which his work explains, and the fascinating (indeed, astounding) manner in which he uses the propositions and theorems of the first two books to demonstrate the laws of motion of the heavenly bodies, first observationaly established by Kepler almost 80 years before Newton's work.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) in the history of science, the history of ideas, and indeed in the history of Western civilization. It is one of the crowning glories of man's ability to observe and explain the natural world, a majestic tour-de-force.
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Read information about the authorSir Isaac Newton, FRS , was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries and is the basis for modern engineering. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the scientific revolution.
In mechanics, Newton enunciated the principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum. In optics, he invented the reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into a visible spectrum. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound.
In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of the differential and integral calculus. He also demonstrated the generalised binomial theorem, developed the so-called "Newton's method" for approximating the zeroes of a function, and contributed to the study of power series.
Newton was also highly religious (though unorthodox), producing more work on Biblical hermeneutics than the natural science he is remembered for today.
In a 2005 poll of the Royal Society asking who had the greater effect on the history of science, Newton was deemed much more influential than Albert Einstein.