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Opticks: or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions, and Colours of Light
London: for Sam Smith, and Benj. Walford,, 1704. London: for Sam Smith, and Benj. Walford,, 1704. Also Two Treatises of the Species and Magnitude of Curvilinear Figures. Quarto. Contemporary panelled calf, neatly rebacked to style with raised bands, dark red morocco label. With 19 folding plates, title in red and black. Bookplate of William A. Cole, distinguished collector and bibliographer of chemistry, author of Chemical Literature, 1700-1860. Corners worn, board edges rubbed, short marginal tear to fore edge of sig. A2 neatly closed without loss, paper restoration to upper outer corner of sig. Eee1 not affecting text, paper flaw at foot of sig. K4 with minor paper loss but not affecting text, sigs. N2 and N3 a little shorter at foot with lower deckle edge, a few minor areas of light spotting, these flaws minor only, still a very good copy. First edition, first issue, with the title in red and black, double ruled border, without Newton's name on the title, and full text and plates. Newton's Opticks expounds his corpuscular or emission theory of light, and first contains his important optical discoveries in collected form. It also prints two important mathematical treatises (published here for the first time but omitted in later editions) describing his invention of the fluxional calculus, which are the grounds for his claim for priority over Leibniz. Newton had arrived at most of his unconventional ideas on colour by about 1668; but when he first expressed them (tersely and partially) in public in 1672 and 1675, they had provoked hostile criticism, especially on the continent. The publication of Opticks, largely written by 1692, was held over by Newton until his most vociferous critics were dead and, unusually for him, first published in English, perhaps a further defensive measure. Nevertheless, Opticks established itself, from about 1715, as a model of the interweaving of theory with quantitative experimentation. The great achievement of the work was to show that colour was a mathematically definable property. Newton showed that white light was a mixture of infinitely varied coloured rays (manifest in the rainbow and the spectrum), each ray definable by the angle through which it is refracted on entering or leaving a given transparent medium. "Newton's Opticks did for light what his Principia had done for gravitation, namely place it on a scientific basis" (D. W. Brown).
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2014-03-24           Check availability:      Biblio    


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