Newton’s Principia Published
The 5th of July 1687 AD
The end of the 17th century in Britain was a golden age of science, something demonstrated by the publishing history of the three books of Isaac Newton ’s Principia Mathematica.
Newton himself is of course rightly regarded as one of the greatest pioneers of physical science. He delivered his manuscript to the Royal Society, where it was astronomer and mathematician Edmund Halley who steered its progress to publication (even funding that publication personally as the society had no funds available), avoiding the potential obstacle of Robert Hooke claiming some priority over aspects of the work. Certainly not a great scientist, but President of the Royal Society nevertheless when the work was published, Samuel Pepys had to approve its issue by the organisation.
Principia set out definitions, the laws of motion, the law of universal gravitation which Newton had three years previously expounded in De Motu Corporum, and some of the foundations of calculus. Its importance was not just in those elements, but the method it demonstrated, the scientist using synthesis and analysis rather than hypothesising, which was perhaps most seminal in the whole field of science.
Newton’s greatness was recognised in his own lifetime, though he had to wait until 1705 to be knighted by Queen Anne .
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