When Newton’s princes made the earth spin

When Newton’s princes made the earth spin

from work Geneva edition Subordinate principles Newton will be discussed tomorrow and Saturday at Oxford University, on the occasion of an international symposium organized to celebrate the bicentenary (1822-2022) of the publication of the Geneva edition. The conference aims to open a dialogue on new perspectives for interdisciplinary research, with the aim of investigating Newton’s studies and improving understanding. It will thus be possible to share innovative approaches to exploring the history of science, and encourage further participation. “Newton Principles of the Natural Philosophy of Mathematics, Geneva Edition ([1739-1742]1822)” was edited by the Italians Raffaele Pisano of the University of Lille and Paolo Busotti of the University of Udine. Both will be present at the symposium, which will also include Flavia Marcacci of the Pontifical Lateran University, Elisa Bellotti of the University of Bergamo, and Fausto Grimaldi of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

“Newton in Book III Natural philosophy mathematical principles It is assumed that the Earth is moving. If this is not assumed, the author’s statements become incomprehensible. We, the lesser brothers Le Sur and Jacquier, cannot remain silent about this. But we declare that we take another position and remain faithful to the decree of the Supreme Pontiff against the movement of the earth.”

This is the general meaning advertisement Which contains the most important annotated edition of principles By the English physicist Isaac Newton (1642-1727), or the work that established the decisive victory of heliocentrism: The center of the planetary system must be a point of rest, and this point is not the Earth. It was the sun principles They had three editions (1687, 1713, 1726). Between 200 and 400 copies of the first edition were printed and it quickly became unavailable in the market. Others followed, with various edits by the author but always difficult to read.

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The second is particularly important, and is enriched by the famous Public school Written by Newton after his correspondence with the philologist and theologian Richard Bentley between 1692 and 1693. principles, He argued that the order and beauty of the world must be the fruit of an “intelligent and benevolent agent.” Newton welcomed this provocation. Certainly his God was not Christ entering history and bearing human suffering to redeem them, but a God ensuring order. If this picture had a profound impact on natural theology from then on, then, on the other hand, the illuminated mathematical system principles It contradicted the condemnation of the Copernican system: that the Earth’s revolution around the Sun was a philosophically absurd and officially heretical proposition, and had been established by the Holy Office in 1616.

How do we reconcile the vision of the strict, regulating God typical of scholars in the Anglican context with the inflexible commandment of Catholic hierarchies? There are those who did not address the theological problem, but rather left it in the background, preferring to be busy explaining the complex Newtonian system. Newton admitted that some partial results, such as the theory of the moon’s motion, forced him to make very detailed presentations. Two French mathematicians won the task of commenting that would make the work more accessible, as well as the minimalist brothers, Fr. Thomas Le Sueur (1703-1770) and François Jacquier (1711-1788). Only thirteen years after the third edition of the book was published principles, The two edited a new article that has been widely commented on. The publisher Jean-Louis Calandrini (1703-1758), a mathematician from Geneva, was expressly thanked by the authors for the precision of the interventions carried out.

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Thus, in the period from 1739 to 1742, the work was printed in four volumes in Geneva. A second edition followed in 1760, and then a third edition, this time in Glasgow in 1822. Here the printers associated the two monks with Jesuit circles, so the work was misnamed Jesuit edition. Today we talk more properly about Geneva edition. The two monks, members of a French family, were known for other works in calculus, geometry, and optics. Together with Calandrini, they conveyed Newton’s methods clearly and transparently. Suspension proved to be a very effective tool for conveying the new picture of the world and the new physics.

No technical concept is skimped on and every demo is explained even to beginners. On the other hand, the majestic depth of Newton’s works could not help but leave experts amazed: the law of inertia, the law connecting force and acceleration, the law of action and reaction, and above all the law of universal gravitation, provided the tools to close, at least conceptually, The controversy began in 1543, when Copernicus published his book Coelestium europium revolution. Despite condemnation of the theological implications, based on the supposed irreconcilability of the heliocentric model with the Bible, astronomers and natural philosophers continued to search for “physical” evidence of the Earth’s motion.

These were slow to arrive for Newton, especially in the third volume of principles, He did not hide the difficulties in establishing the center of the world. The significant results of the solution reached by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), the Danish astronomer who placed the Earth at the center of the world with the Sun and planets surrounding it, were significant. Le Sur, Jacquier, and Calandrini realized that Newton’s mathematics had revealed a vision of nature that was now indispensable. In 1822 the third edition of their commentary was published. Just two years ago in Rome, Pope Pius VII granted permission to Optics elements (1819) by Giuseppe Settelli, in which physical evidence of the Earth’s motion that gradually emerged over the course of about a century and a half was used to explain the heliocentric model. The condemnation of 1616 was overturned, because the Copernican thesis no longer presented difficulties for the faith. The thought of nature and the nature you believe in have finally converged again, a clear sign of how science provides the irreplaceable service of faith.

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