Newton’s Manuscripts Available Online

The University of Cambridge, as part of its Cambridge Digital Library project, is making part of its substantial collection of Sir Isaac Newton’s scientific and mathematical manuscripts available online:

Cambridge University Library is pleased to present the first items in its Foundations of Science collection: a selection from the Papers of Sir Isaac Newton. The Library holds the most important and substantial collection of Newton’s scientific and mathematical manuscripts and over the next few months we intend to make most of our Newton papers available on this site.

The first installment of manuscripts includes some of Newton’s college notebooks, some early work on the calculus, early papers on optics, and Newton’s own annotated copy of the first edition of his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (often called just the Principia), the work that cemented his international reputation.  The Principia is over 1,000 pages; with the other manuscripts, this segment of the library’s collection comprises about 4,000 pages.  Wired has an image gallery illustrating some sample pages from Sir Isaac’s work.

This is a great example of one of the real benefits of the Internet.  These landmark documents in the history of science can now be seen by millions of people, most of whom would never have had the opportunity in person.

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