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Cambridge puts Isaac Newton's notes online

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If you're looking for a bit of light reading this holiday season, Cambridge University is here to help: they've digitized and made available online over 4,000 pages of the pioneering scientist and mathemetician Sir Isaac Newton's most important works.

Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica title page

Principia title page
(click to enlarge)

"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," Cambridge University Library's digitization manager Grant Young told the BBC.

Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica edits

Principia edits
(click to enlarge)

Included in the collection are Newton's own copy of his 1687 masterwork, Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica, in which he described with mathematical rigor his laws of motion and gravitation. The digitized version also includes Newton's own edits and marginalia, plus many pages of handwritten notes.

Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica handwritten notes

Principia notes
(click to enlarge)

Also included are some early papers; a notebook Newton inherited from his stepfather known as the Waste Book, in which he wrote down some of his work on developing calculus; a pair of college notebooks; and a raft of papers on Hydrostatics, Optics, Sound and Heat.

In addition to the over 4,000 pages now available, Cambridge plans to add another 8,000 pages of Newton's writings in coming months. The university will then add more original works, including papers and books from its Charles Darwin collection.

"We're bringing Cambridge University Library to the world," said Young. ®

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