Isaac Newton’s Personal Notebooks Go Digital
Who says you can’t hoard anything in this now technological world? Here’s something for the science history buffs:
The largest collection of Isaac Newton’s papers has gone digital, committing to open-access posterity the works of one of history’s greatest scientist.
Among the works shared online by the Cambridge Digital Library are Newton’s own annotated copy of Principia Mathematica and the ‘Waste Book,’ the notebook in which a young Newton worked out the principles of calculus.
Other of his myriad accomplishments include the laws of gravity and motion, a theory of light — pictured above are notes on optics — and his construction of the first reflecting telescope.
Newton was also notoriously idiosyncratic and irascible, obsessed with the occult and vicious towards scientific rivals; a full account of his life and science can be found in James Gleick’s Isaac Newton, and a partial but entertaining fictionalization in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. But the papers come straight from the master.
“Anyone, wherever they are, can see at the click of a mouse how Newton worked and how he went about developing his theories and experiments,” said Grant Young, the library’s digitization manager, in a press release. “Before today, anyone who wanted to see these things had to come to Cambridge. Now we’re bringing Cambridge University Library to the world.”
Approximately 4,000 pages of material are available now, and thousands more will be uploaded in coming months.