# Newton and Leibniz: Crash Course History of Science #17

TLDRThe transcript explores the dual nature of Sir Isaac Newton, celebrated for his contributions to physics and calculus, yet deeply involved in alchemy and the occult. It also delves into the rivalry with Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz over the invention of calculus and highlights the role of scientific societies in the evolution of knowledge during the Scientific Revolution.

###### Takeaways

- π Isaac Newton was not only a pivotal figure in physics but also had a deep interest in alchemy and the occult.
- π Newton's early life was marked by hardship and bullying, but he excelled academically, leading to his development of calculus at Cambridge.
- π Newton's 'miracle year' of 1666 saw significant advancements in his understanding of gravity, light, and color.
- π¬ His work in optics, including the development of the reflecting telescope, revolutionized the understanding of light and color.
- π The Great Fire of London and the plague were contemporaneous events that contrasted with Newton's scientific achievements.
- π€ Newton's eccentric beliefs and practices, including his rejection of the Holy Trinity and his alchemical pursuits, influenced his scientific work.
- π The dispute between Newton and Leibniz over the invention of calculus highlights the role of scientific societies in shaping the course of mathematical and scientific development.
- π Newton's 'Principia' unified the work of previous scientists into a single, mathematically sound system, laying the foundation for classical mechanics.
- π Leibniz's contributions to calculus, including the notation still used today, were overshadowed by the priority dispute with Newton.
- π The emergence of scientific societies like the Royal Society and the Academy of Sciences in Paris facilitated the exchange of ideas and the public nature of scientific debate.
- ποΈ Newton's career at the Royal Mint and his presidency of the Royal Society reflect the shifting paradigms in scientific knowledge production in Europe.

###### Q & A

### What is the significance of Sir Isaac Newton in the Scientific Revolution?

-Sir Isaac Newton is synonymous with physics today, and his contributions during the Scientific Revolution were monumental. He developed calculus, described the laws of motion and universal gravitation, and made significant advancements in the field of optics, including the development of the reflecting telescope.

### How did Newton's early life influence his later scientific pursuits?

-Newton was born in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, and his family was not well off. His father died before he was born, and his mother remarried. Despite being bullied in school, Newton discovered a love for learning, which led to his success at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he first conceived the ideas that would become calculus.

### What is the 'annus mirabalis' or 'miracle year' in Newton's life, and why is it significant?

-The 'annus mirabalis' refers to 1666 when Newton returned to his home in Lincolnshire due to the closure of Cambridge University because of the plague. During this year, he made significant scientific advancements, including the laws of motion and universal gravitation, and began developing his theory of light and colors.

### What was Newton's controversial belief that almost created a professional problem for him?

-Newton was not an orthodox Christian. He believed that the Holy Trinity was nonsense and that he had unique access to a secret treasure of wisdom from God, passed down through Noah, Moses, Pythagoras, and himself. This belief system almost created a professional problem for him as Cambridge required professors to become Anglican priests.

### What was Newton's role in the development of alchemy?

-Newton was a major alchemist who was obsessed with the occult and non-rational truths. He kept his furnaces burning for days, attempting to transmute metals. However, unlike many alchemists of his time, Newton did not aim to turn lead into gold but rather sought to understand everything through his alchemical experiments.

### What was the 'crucial experiment' that Newton conducted in optics?

-Newton's 'crucial experiment' in optics involved using a prism to split white light into its constituent colors and then using a mirror to reflect the colored light back to white. This experiment demonstrated that light is composed of different colors that are only visible when refracted or bent.

### What is the significance of the 'queries' in Newton's book Opticks?

-The 'queries' in Opticks were rhetorical statements meant to guide further research. They went beyond optical physics to address the nature and transmission of heat, the possible cause of gravity, electricity, the creation of matter, the proper way to conduct science, and the ethical conduct of human beings, influencing science for centuries.

### What are the three major contributions Newton is best known for?

-Newton is best known for mathematically perfecting the astronomical system of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo; describing how gravity works, which set the stage for classical mechanics; and introducing calculus to the world.

### What is the controversy surrounding the invention of calculus?

-The controversy revolves around the priority dispute between Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. Both independently developed elements of calculus, but the English mathematical community accused Leibniz of having seen Newton's unpublished notes. The Royal Society ruled in favor of Newton, which has led to an ongoing debate about who should be credited with the invention of calculus.

### What was the role of scientific societies during the Scientific Revolution?

-Scientific societies, such as the Royal Society of London and the Academy of Sciences in Paris, served as platforms for natural philosophers to debate ideas, publish their findings, and foster the exchange of scientific knowledge. They were instrumental in making natural philosophy a public enterprise and played a crucial role in the production and dissemination of knowledge.

### How did the invention of the reflecting telescope by Newton contribute to the field of optics?

-Newton's reflecting telescope used a mirror to focus light, which was a significant departure from the refracting telescopes of his time that used lenses. This invention reduced chromatic aberration, providing clearer images and demonstrating the practical applications of his work in optics.

###### Outlines

##### π The Dual Nature of Isaac Newton

This paragraph introduces Sir Isaac Newton, a pivotal figure in the Scientific Revolution, known for his contributions to physics and mathematics. It contrasts the common perception of Newton as a rational scientist with his lesser-known interest in alchemy and the occult. The script also introduces Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Newton's rival in the development of calculus. The narrative begins with Newton's birth and early life, his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, and his remarkable achievements during his 'miracle year' in 1666, including his work on gravity, calculus, and the theory of light and colors. Despite his scientific accomplishments, Newton's eccentricities and unorthodox beliefs created professional challenges, particularly his views on the Holy Trinity and his alchemical pursuits.

##### π Newton's Contributions to Optics and the 'Queries'

This paragraph discusses Newton's work on optics, which he published in 1704 in the book Opticks. It highlights Newton's victory over Aristotelian and Cartesian optics, his introduction of the 'queries' that extended beyond optical physics to various scientific and philosophical topics. The paragraph also emphasizes Newton's most significant contributions to science, including the perfection of the astronomical system of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, the mathematical description of gravity, and the introduction of calculus. The development of the reflecting telescope and the controversy surrounding Newton's optics work are also mentioned, illustrating the scientific debates of the time.

##### ποΈ The Calculus Priority Dispute and Scientific Societies

The final paragraph focuses on the infamous calculus priority dispute between Newton and Leibniz, detailing Leibniz's contributions to calculus and the role of scientific societies in the controversy. It describes the establishment and functions of the Royal Society and the Academy of Sciences in Paris, emphasizing their importance in facilitating the exchange of ideas and the publication of scientific works. The paragraph also touches on the broader impact of scientific societies on the production of knowledge, government patronage, and commercial applications. The narrative concludes by reflecting on Newton's role in the evolving scientific culture of his time, which was marked by internal debate and a shift in paradigm from Aristotle to Galileo, Bacon, Newton, and Leibniz.

###### Mindmap

###### Keywords

##### π‘Scientific Revolution

##### π‘Isaac Newton

##### π‘Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

##### π‘Calculus

##### π‘Optics

##### π‘Alchemy

##### π‘Royal Society

##### π‘Principia

##### π‘Mechanical Intelligibility

##### π‘Annus Mirabilis

##### π‘Priority Dispute

###### Highlights

Sir Isaac Newton's multifaceted career, including his roles as a servant of the Royal Mint, parliamentarian, and his monumental contributions to science.

Newton's lesser-known interest in alchemy and the occult, showing a different side to his character beyond the rational scientist.

The rivalry between Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, two geniuses who independently developed calculus and significantly influenced the fields of math and science.

Newton's early life, including his birth in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, his family background, and his experiences with bullying and education at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Newton's development of calculus during his 'miracle year' in 1666, a pivotal moment in the history of mathematics.

Newton's formulation of the laws of gravity and his work on the theory of light and colors, including his famous 'crucial experiment' with a prism.

Newton's eccentricities and his unorthodox religious beliefs, which almost created professional problems for him at Cambridge.

Newton's work in alchemy, his belief in a secret treasure of wisdom, and his extensive writings on the subject.

The impact of Newton's work on optics, including his development of the reflecting telescope and his controversial ideas that led to a retreat from public life.

The publication of Newton's 'Opticks' and its influence on science through the series of 'queries' that extended beyond optical physics.

Newton's monumental 'Principia', which unified the work of previous scientists and introduced the world to the concept of gravity and calculus.

The role of scientific societies, like the Royal Society and the Academy of Sciences in Paris, in facilitating the exchange of ideas and the development of scientific knowledge.

The priority dispute between Newton and Leibniz over the invention of calculus, and the lasting impact of this controversy on the scientific community.

Leibniz's contributions to calculus, including his development of integral calculus and the notation still used today.

The significance of Newton's and Leibniz's work in establishing a new paradigm in scientific knowledge production, shifting from Aristotelian to Galileo and Baconian principles.

###### Transcripts

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