A Change of Mind: Newton and the Comet(s?) of 1680 and 1681

  • David R. Topper


Centrifugal Force Circular Motion Elliptical Orbit Centripetal Force Conical Motion 
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  1. For more on Newton and comets, see Simon Schaffer, “Newton’s Comets and the Transformation of Astrology,” in Astrology and Science and Society: Historical Essays, Patrick Curry, ed. (Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 1987), pp. 219–243; and Sara J. Schechner, Comets, Popular Culture, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), especially chapters 6 and 7. For information on the 1680–1 comet and Newton’s calculation of the end of the world, I am grateful to Sara Schechner (via the Internet).Google Scholar
  2. Isaac Newton, De Mundi Systemate (A Treatise on the System of the World), English trans. (London: Dawsons, 1969). The most recent translation of the Principia is Isaac Newton, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman, trans. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999). For a scholarly version, with delineations among the three editions, see Isaac Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica,” 2 vols, I. Bernard Cohen and Alexandre Koyrè, eds. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972). Indispensable is The Correspondence of Isaac Newton, vol. 2 (1676–1687), H.W. Turnbull, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University of Press, 1960).Google Scholar
  3. Kepler’s Mysterium Cosmographicum has been translated as The Secret of the Universe, by A.M. Duncan (New York: Abaris Books, 1981), material quoted from pp. 83 and 91.Google Scholar
  4. My argument on Kepler’s celestial magnetism is support by passages in his Epitome of Copernican Astronomy (1618–1621). I have used the translation of sections of this work from volume 16 of the Great Books of the Western World (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1939). See especially pp. 899 and 935–940.Google Scholar
  5. For her invaluable assistance with Latin translations here and throughout this book, I am grateful to Professor Jan McTavish, Alcorn State University, Mississippi.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Topper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada R3B2E9

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