sir issac newton

Isaac Newton
Portrait of man in black with shoulder-length, wavy brown hair, a large sharp nose, and a distracted gaze

Portrait of Newton by Godfrey Kneller
Born 4 January 1643 [O.S. 25 December 1642][1]

Died 31 March 1727 (aged 84) [O.S.20 March 1726][1]

Resting place Westminster Abbey
Nationality English
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Known for
Awards
Scientific career
Fields
Institutions
Academic advisors
Notable students
Signature
Is. Newton

Sir Isaac Newton FRS PRS (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27[1]) was an English mathematicianphysicistastronomertheologian, and author (described in his own day as a “natural philosopher“) who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnizfor developing the infinitesimal calculus.

In Principia, Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation that formed the dominant scientific viewpoint until it was superseded by the theory of relativity. Newton used his mathematical description of gravity to prove Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, account for tides, the trajectories of comets, the precession of the equinoxes and other phenomena, eradicating doubt about the Solar System‘s heliocentricity. He demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and celestial bodies could be accounted for by the same principles. Newton’s inference that the Earth is an oblate spheroid was later confirmed by the geodetic measurements of MaupertuisLa Condamine, and others, convincing most European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over earlier systems.

Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a sophisticated theory of colour based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colours of the visible spectrum. His work on light was collected in his highly influential book Opticks, published in 1704. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling, made the first theoretical calculation of the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves.

Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was a devout, but unorthodox, Christian who privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Unusually for a member of the Cambridge faculty of the day, he refused to take holy orders in the Church of England. Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of alchemy and biblical chronology, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death. Politically and personally tied to the Whig party, Newton served two brief terms as Member of Parliament for the University of Cambridge, in 1689–90 and 1701–02. He was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 and spent the last three decades of his life in London, serving as Warden (1696–1700) and Master (1700–1727) of the Royal Mint, as well as president of the Royal Society (1703–1727).

Life

Early life

Isaac Newton was born (according to the Julian calendar, in use in England at the time) on Christmas Day, 25 December 1642 (NS 4 January 1643[1]) “an hour or two after midnight”,[6] at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. His father, also named Isaac Newton, had died three months before. Born prematurely, Newton was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quartmug.[7] When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabas Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough. Newton disliked his stepfather and maintained some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.”[8] Newton’s mother had three children from her second marriage.[9]

From the age of about twelve until he was seventeen, Newton was educated at The King’s School, Grantham, which taught Latin and Greek and probably imparted a significant foundation of mathematics.[10] He was removed from school, and returned to Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth by October 1659. His mother, widowed for the second time, attempted to make him a farmer, an occupation he hated.[11] Henry Stokes, master at The King’s School, persuaded his mother to send him back to school. Motivated partly by a desire for revenge against a schoolyard bully, he became the top-ranked student,[12] distinguishing himself mainly by building sundials and models of windmills.[13]

In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, on the recommendation of his uncle Rev William Ayscough, who had studied there. He started as a subsizar—paying his way by performing valet‘s duties—until he was awarded a scholarship in 1664, guaranteeing him four more years until he could get his MA.[14] At that time, the college’s teachings were based on those of Aristotle, whom Newton supplemented with modern philosophers such as Descartes, and astronomers such as Galileo and Thomas Street, through whom he learned of Kepler‘s work. He set down in his notebook a series of “Quaestiones” about mechanical philosophy as he found it. In 1665, he discovered the generalised binomial theorem and began to develop a mathematical theory that later became calculus. Soon after Newton had obtained his BA degree in August 1665, the university temporarily closed as a precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished as a Cambridge student,[15] Newton’s private studies at his home in Woolsthorpe over the subsequent two years saw the development of his theories on calculus,[16] optics, and the law of gravitation.

In April 1667, he returned to Cambridge and in October was elected as a fellow of Trinity.[17][18] Fellows were required to become ordained priests, although this was not enforced in the restoration years and an assertion of conformity to the Church of England was sufficient. However, by 1675 the issue could not be avoided and by then his unconventional views stood in the way.[19] Nevertheless, Newton managed to avoid it by means of a special permission from Charles II.

His studies had impressed the Lucasian professor Isaac Barrow, who was more anxious to develop his own religious and administrative potential (he became master of Trinity two years later); in 1669 Newton succeeded him, only one year after receiving his MA. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1672.[2]

Middle years

Mathematics

Sir Isaac Newton[20]

Newton’s work has been said “to distinctly advance every branch of mathematics then studied.”[21] His work on the subject usually referred to as fluxions or calculus, seen in a manuscript of October 1666, is now published among Newton’s mathematical papers.[22] The author of the manuscript De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum infinitas, sent by Isaac Barrow to John Collins in June 1669, was identified by Barrow in a letter sent to Collins in August of that year as “[…] of an extraordinary genius and proficiency in these things.”[23]

Newton later became involved in a dispute with Leibniz over priority in the development of calculus (the Leibniz–Newton calculus controversy). Most modern historians believe that Newton and Leibniz developed calculus independently, although with very different mathematical notations. Occasionally it has been suggested that Newton published almost nothing about it until 1693, and did not give a full account until 1704, while Leibniz began publishing a full account of his methods in 1684. Leibniz’s notation and “differential Method”, nowadays recognised as much more convenient notations, were adopted by continental European mathematicians, and after 1820 or so, also by British mathematicians.[citation needed]

Such a suggestion fails to account for the calculus in Book 1 of Newton’s Principia itself and in its forerunner manuscripts, such as De motu corporum in gyrum of 1684; this content has been pointed out by critics[Like whom?] of both Newton’s time and modern times.[citation needed]

His work extensively uses calculus in geometric form based on limiting values of the ratios of vanishingly small quantities: in the Principia itself, Newton gave demonstration of this under the name of “the method of first and last ratios”[24] and explained why he put his expositions in this form,[25]remarking also that “hereby the same thing is performed as by the method of indivisibles.”[This quote needs a citation]

Because of this, the Principia has been called “a book dense with the theory and application of the infinitesimal calculus” in modern times[26] and in Newton’s time “nearly all of it is of this calculus.”[27] His use of methods involving “one or more orders of the infinitesimally small” is present in his De motu corporum in gyrum of 1684[28] and in his papers on motion “during the two decades preceding 1684”.[29]

Newton in 1702 by Godfrey Kneller

Newton had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared controversy and criticism.[30] He was close to the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier. In 1691, Duillier started to write a new version of Newton’s Principia, and corresponded with Leibniz.[31] In 1693, the relationship between Duillier and Newton deteriorated and the book was never completed.[citation needed]

Starting in 1699, other members[who?] of the Royal Society accused Leibniz of plagiarism.[citation needed] The dispute then broke out in full force in 1711 when the Royal Society proclaimed in a study that it was Newton who was the true discoverer and labelled Leibniz a fraud; it was later found that Newton wrote the study’s concluding remarks on Leibniz. Thus began the bitter controversy which marred the lives of both Newton and Leibniz until the latter’s death in 1716.[32]

Newton is generally credited with the generalised binomial theorem, valid for any exponent. He discovered Newton’s identitiesNewton’s method, classified cubic plane curves (polynomials of degree three in two variables), made substantial contributions to the theory of finite differences, and was the first to use fractional indices and to employ coordinate geometry to derive solutions to Diophantine equations. He approximated partial sums of the harmonic series by logarithms (a precursor to Euler’s summation formula) and was the first to use power series with confidence and to revert power series. Newton’s work on infinite series was inspired by Simon Stevin‘s decimals.[33]

When Newton received his MA and became a Fellow of the “College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity” in 1667, he made the commitment that “I will either set Theology as the object of my studies and will take holy orders when the time prescribed by these statutes [7 years] arrives, or I will resign from the college.”[34] Up until this point he had not thought much about religion and had twice signed his agreement to the thirty-nine articles, the basis of Church of England doctrine.

He was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669, on Barrow’s recommendation. During that time, any Fellow of a college at Cambridge or Oxford was required to take holy orders and become an ordained Anglican priest. However, the terms of the Lucasian professorship required that the holder not be active in the church – presumably[weasel words] so as to have more time for science. Newton argued that this should exempt him from the ordination requirement, and Charles II, whose permission was needed, accepted this argument. Thus a conflict between Newton’s religious views and Anglican orthodoxy was averted.[35]

Optics

Replica of Newton’s second reflecting telescope, which he presented to the Royal Society in 1672[36]

In 1666, Newton observed that the spectrum of colours exiting a prism in the position of minimum deviation is oblong, even when the light ray entering the prism is circular, which is to say, the prism refracts different colours by different angles.[37][38]This led him to conclude that colour is a property intrinsic to light—a point which had been debated in prior years.

From 1670 to 1672, Newton lectured on optics.[39] During this period he investigated the refraction of light, demonstrating that the multicoloured spectrum produced by a prism could be recomposed into white light by a lens and a second prism.[40]Modern scholarship has revealed that Newton’s analysis and resynthesis of white light owes a debt to corpuscular alchemy.[41]

He showed that coloured light does not change its properties by separating out a coloured beam and shining it on various objects, and that regardless of whether reflected, scattered, or transmitted, the light remains the same colour. Thus, he observed that colour is the result of objects interacting with already-coloured light rather than objects generating the colour themselves. This is known as Newton’s theory of colour.[42]

Illustration of a dispersive prismseparating white light into the colours of the spectrum, as discovered by Newton

From this work, he concluded that the lens of any refracting telescope would suffer from the dispersion of light into colours (chromatic aberration). As a proof of the concept, he constructed a telescope using reflective mirrors instead of lenses as the objective to bypass that problem.[43][44] Building the design, the first known functional reflecting telescope, today known as a Newtonian telescope,[44] involved solving the problem of a suitable mirror material and shaping technique. Newton ground his own mirrors out of a custom composition of highly reflective speculum metal, using Newton’s rings to judge the quality of the optics for his telescopes. In late 1668,[45] he was able to produce this first reflecting telescope. It was about eight inches long and it gave a clearer and larger image. In 1671, the Royal Society asked for a demonstration of his reflecting telescope.[46]Their interest encouraged him to publish his notes, Of Colours,[47] which he later expanded into the work Opticks. When Robert Hooke criticised some of Newton’s ideas, Newton was so offended that he withdrew from public debate. Newton and Hooke had brief exchanges in 1679–80, when Hooke, appointed to manage the Royal Society’s correspondence, opened up a correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal Society transactions,[48] which had the effect of stimulating Newton to work out a proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a centripetal force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector. But the two men remained generally on poor terms until Hooke’s death.[49]

Facsimile of a 1682 letter from Isaac Newton to Dr William Briggs, commenting on Briggs’ “A New Theory of Vision”

Newton argued that light is composed of particles or corpuscles, which were refracted by accelerating into a denser medium. He verged on soundlike waves to explain the repeated pattern of reflection and transmission by thin films (Opticks Bk.II, Props. 12), but still retained his theory of ‘fits’ that disposed corpuscles to be reflected or transmitted (Props.13). However, later physicists favoured a purely wavelike explanation of light to account for the interference patterns and the general phenomenon of diffraction. Today’s quantum mechanicsphotons, and the idea of wave–particle duality bear only a minor resemblance to Newton’s understanding of light.

In his Hypothesis of Light of 1675, Newton posited the existence of the ether to transmit forces between particles. The contact with the Cambridge Platonist philosopher Henry More revived his interest in alchemy.[50] He replaced the ether with occult forces based on Hermetic ideas of attraction and repulsion between particles. John Maynard Keynes, who acquired many of Newton’s writings on alchemy, stated that “Newton was not the first of the age of reason: He was the last of the magicians.”[51] Newton’s interest in alchemy cannot be isolated from his contributions to science.[50] This was at a time when there was no clear distinction between alchemy and science. Had he not relied on the occult idea of action at a distance, across a vacuum, he might not have developed his theory of gravity.

In 1704, Newton published Opticks, in which he expounded his corpuscular theory of light. He considered light to be made up of extremely subtle corpuscles, that ordinary matter was made of grosser corpuscles and speculated that through a kind of alchemical transmutation “Are not gross Bodies and Light convertible into one another, … and may not Bodies receive much of their Activity from the Particles of Light which enter their Composition?”[52] Newton also constructed a primitive form of a frictional electrostatic generator, using a glass globe.[53]

In an article entitled “Newton, prisms, and the ‘opticks’ of tunable lasers”[54] it is indicated that Newton in his book Opticks was the first to show a diagram using a prism as a beam expander. In the same book he describes, via diagrams, the use of multiple-prism arrays. Some 278 years after Newton’s discussion, multiple-prism beam expanders became central to the development of narrow-linewidth tunable lasers. Also, the use of these prismatic beam expanders led to the multiple-prism dispersion theory.[54]

Subsequent to Newton, much has been amended. Young and Fresnel combined Newton’s particle theory with Huygens’ wave theory to show that colour is the visible manifestation of light’s wavelength. Science also slowly came to realise the difference between perception of colour and mathematisable optics. The German poet and scientist, Goethe, could not shake the Newtonian foundation but “one hole Goethe did find in Newton’s armour, … Newton had committed himself to the doctrine that refraction without colour was impossible. He therefore thought that the object-glasses of telescopes must for ever remain imperfect, achromatism and refraction being incompatible. This inference was proved by Dollond to be wrong.”[55]

Engraving of a Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton by John Vanderbank

Mechanics and gravitation

Newton’s own copy of his Principia, with hand-written corrections for the second edition

In 1679, Newton returned to his work on celestial mechanics by considering gravitation and its effect on the orbits of planets with reference to Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. This followed stimulation by a brief exchange of letters in 1679–80 with Hooke, who had been appointed to manage the Royal Society’s correspondence, and who opened a correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal Society transactions.[48] Newton’s reawakening interest in astronomical matters received further stimulus by the appearance of a comet in the winter of 1680–1681, on which he corresponded with John Flamsteed.[56] After the exchanges with Hooke, Newton worked out proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a centripetal force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector. Newton communicated his results to Edmond Halley and to the Royal Society in De motu corporum in gyrum, a tract written on about nine sheets which was copied into the Royal Society’s Register Book in December 1684.[57] This tract contained the nucleus that Newton developed and expanded to form the Principia.

The Principia was published on 5 July 1687 with encouragement and financial help from Edmond Halley. In this work, Newton stated the three universal laws of motion. Together, these laws describe the relationship between any object, the forces acting upon it and the resulting motion, laying the foundation for classical mechanics. They contributed to many advances during the Industrial Revolution which soon followed and were not improved upon for more than 200 years. Many of these advancements continue to be the underpinnings of non-relativistic technologies in the modern world. He used the Latin word gravitas (weight) for the effect that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation.[citation needed]

In the same work, Newton presented a calculus-like method of geometrical analysis using ‘first and last ratios’, gave the first analytical determination (based on Boyle’s law) of the speed of sound in air, inferred the oblateness of Earth’s spheroidal figure, accounted for the precession of the equinoxes as a result of the Moon’s gravitational attraction on the Earth’s oblateness, initiated the gravitational study of the irregularities in the motion of the moon, provided a theory for the determination of the orbits of comets, and much more.[citation needed]

Newton made clear his heliocentric view of the Solar System—developed in a somewhat modern way, because already in the mid-1680s he recognised the “deviation of the Sun” from the centre of gravity of the Solar System.[58] For Newton, it was not precisely the centre of the Sun or any other body that could be considered at rest, but rather “the common centre of gravity of the Earth, the Sun and all the Planets is to be esteem’d the Centre of the World”, and this centre of gravity “either is at rest or moves uniformly forward in a right line” (Newton adopted the “at rest” alternative in view of common consent that the centre, wherever it was, was at rest).[59]

Newton’s postulate of an invisible force able to act over vast distances led to him being criticised for introducing “occult agencies” into science.[60] Later, in the second edition of the Principia (1713), Newton firmly rejected such criticisms in a concluding General Scholium, writing that it was enough that the phenomena implied a gravitational attraction, as they did; but they did not so far indicate its cause, and it was both unnecessary and improper to frame hypotheses of things that were not implied by the phenomena. (Here Newton used what became his famous expression “hypotheses non-fingo”[61]).

With the Principia, Newton became internationally recognised.[62] He acquired a circle of admirers, including the Swiss-born mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier.[63]

Classification of cubics

Newton found 72 of the 78 “species” of cubic curves and categorized them into four types.[when?] In 1717, and probably with Newton’s help, James Stirling proved that every cubic was one of these four types. Newton also claimed that the four types could be obtained by plane projection from one of them, and this was proved in 1731, four years after his death.[64]

Later life

In the 1690s, Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal and symbolic interpretation of the Bible. A manuscript Newton sent to John Locke in which he disputed the fidelity of 1 John 5:7—the Johannine Comma—and its fidelity to the original manuscripts of the New Testament, remained unpublished until 1785.[65]

Scholars long debated whether Newton disputed the doctrine of the Trinity. His first biographer, Sir David Brewster, who compiled his manuscripts, interpreted Newton as questioning the veracity of some passages used to support the Trinity, but never denying the doctrine of the Trinity as such.[66] In the twentieth century, encrypted manuscripts written by Newton and bought by John Maynard Keynes (among others) were deciphered[51] and it became known that Newton did indeed reject Trinitarianism.[67]

Isaac Newton in old age in 1712, portrait by Sir James Thornhill

Later works—The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended (1728) and Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733)—were published after his death. He also devoted a great deal of time to alchemy.

Newton was also a member of the Parliament of England for Cambridge University in 1689 and 1701, but according to some accounts his only comments were to complain about a cold draught in the chamber and request that the window be closed.[68] He was, however, noted by Cambridge diarist Abraham de la Pryme to have rebuked students who were frightening locals by claiming that a house was haunted.[69]

Newton moved to London to take up the post of warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, a position that he had obtained through the patronage of Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He took charge of England’s great recoining, trodden on the toes of Lord Lucas, Governor of the Tower, and secured the job of deputy comptroller of the temporary Chester branch for Edmond Halley. Newton became perhaps the best-known Master of the Mint upon the death of Thomas Neale in 1699, a position Newton held for the last 30 years of his life.[70][71] These appointments were intended as sinecures, but Newton took them seriously. He retired from his Cambridge duties in 1701, and exercised his authority to reform the currency and punish clippers and counterfeiters.

As Warden, and afterwards as Master, of the Royal Mint, Newton estimated that 20  per cent of the coins taken in during the Great Recoinage of 1696 were counterfeit. Counterfeiting was high treason, punishable by the felon being hanged, drawn and quartered. Despite this, convicting even the most flagrant criminals could be extremely difficult, however, Newton proved equal to the task.[72]

Disguised as a habitué of bars and taverns, he gathered much of that evidence himself.[73] For all the barriers placed to prosecution, and separating the branches of government, English law still had ancient and formidable customs of authority. Newton had himself made a justice of the peace in all the home counties. A draft letter regarding the matter is included in Newton’s personal first edition of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which he must have been amending at the time.[74]Then he conducted more than 100 cross-examinations of witnesses, informers, and suspects between June 1698 and Christmas 1699. Newton successfully prosecuted 28 coiners.[75]

Coat of arms of the Newton family of Gunnerby, Lincolnshire, afterwards used by Sir Isaac[76]

As a result of a report written by Newton on 21 September 1717 to the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury, the bimetallic relationship between gold coins and silver coins was changed by Royal proclamation on 22 December 1717, forbidding the exchange of gold guineas for more than 21 silver shillings.[77] This inadvertently resulted in a silver shortage as silver coins were used to pay for imports, while exports were paid for in gold, effectively moving Britain from the silver standard to its first gold standard. It is a matter of debate as to whether he intended to do this or not.[78] It has been argued that Newton conceived of his work at the Mint as a continuation of his alchemical work.[79]

Newton was made President of the Royal Society in 1703 and an associate of the French Académie des Sciences. In his position at the Royal Society, Newton made an enemy of John Flamsteed, the Astronomer Royal, by prematurely publishing Flamsteed’s Historia Coelestis Britannica, which Newton had used in his studies.[80]

In April 1705, Queen Anne knighted Newton during a royal visit to Trinity College, Cambridge. The knighthood is likely to have been motivated by political considerations connected with the Parliamentary election in May 1705, rather than any recognition of Newton’s scientific work or services as Master of the Mint.[81] Newton was the second scientist to be knighted, after Sir Francis Bacon.[82]

Newton was one of many people who lost heavily when the South Sea Company collapsed. Their most significant trade was slaves, and according to his niece, he lost around £20,000.[83]

Toward the end of his life, Newton took up residence at Cranbury Park, near Winchester with his niece and her husband, until his death in 1727.[84] His half-niece, Catherine Barton Conduitt,[85] served as his hostess in social affairs at his house on Jermyn Street in London; he was her “very loving Uncle”,[86] according to his letter to her when she was recovering from smallpox.

Death

Newton died in his sleep in London on 20 March 1727 (OS 20 March 1726; NS 31 March 1727).[1] His body was buried in Westminster Abbey.[87] Voltaire may have been present at his funeral.[88] A bachelor, he had divested much of his estate to relatives during his last years, and died intestate.[89] His papers went to John Conduitt and Catherine Barton.[90] After his death, Newton’s hair was examined and found to contain mercury, probably resulting from his alchemical pursuits. Mercury poisoningcould explain Newton’s eccentricity in late life.[89]

Personal relations

Although it was claimed that he was once engaged,[91] Newton never married. The French writer and philosopher Voltaire, who was in London at the time of Newton’s funeral, said that he “was never sensible to any passion, was not subject to the common frailties of mankind, nor had any commerce with women—a circumstance which was assured me by the physician and surgeon who attended him in his last moments”.[92] The widespread belief that he died a  has been commented on by writers such as mathematician Charles Hutton,[93] economist John Maynard Keynes,[94] and physicist Carl Sagan.[95]

Newton had a close friendship with the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, whom he met in London around 1689[63]—some of their correspondence has survived.[96][97] Their relationship came to an abrupt and unexplained end in 1693, and at the same time Newton suffered a nervous breakdown[98] which included sending wild accusatory letters to his friends Samuel Pepys and John Locke—his note to the latter included the charge that Locke “endeavoured to embroil me with woemen”.[99]

After death

Fame

Newton’s tomb monument in Westminster Abbey

The mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange said that Newton was the greatest genius who ever lived, and once added that Newton was also “the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to establish.”[100] English poet Alexander Pope wrote the famous epitaph:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;

God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.

Newton was relatively modest about his achievements, writing in a letter to Robert Hooke in February 1676:

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.[101]

Two writers think that the above quotation, written at a time when Newton and Hooke were in dispute over optical discoveries, was an oblique attack on Hooke (said to have been short and hunchbacked), rather than—or in addition to—a statement of modesty.[102][103]On the other hand, the widely known proverb about standing on the shoulders of giants, published among others by seventeenth-century poet George Herbert (a former orator of the University of Cambridge and fellow of Trinity College) in his Jacula Prudentum (1651), had as its main point that “a dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees farther of the two”, and so its effect as an analogy would place Newton himself rather than Hooke as the ‘dwarf’.

In a later memoir, Newton wrote:

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.[104]

In 1816, a tooth said to have belonged to Newton was sold for £730[105] (us$3,633) in London to an aristocrat who had it set in a ring.[106] The Guinness World Records2002 classified it as the most valuable tooth, which would value approximately £25,000 (us$35,700) in late 2001.[106] Who bought it and who currently has it has not been disclosed.

Albert Einstein kept a picture of Newton on his study wall alongside ones of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell.[107] Newton remains influential to today’s scientists, as demonstrated by a 2005 survey of members of Britain’s Royal Society (formerly headed by Newton) asking who had the greater effect on the history of science, Newton or Einstein. Royal Society scientists deemed Newton to have made the greater overall contribution.[108] In 1999, an opinion poll of 100 of today’s leading physicists voted Einstein the “greatest physicist ever;” with Newton the runner-up, while a parallel survey of rank-and-file physicists by the site PhysicsWeb gave the top spot to Newton.[109]

Commemorations

Newton statue on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Newton’s monument (1731) can be seen in Westminster Abbey, at the north of the entrance to the choir against the choir screen, near his tomb. It was executed by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770) in white and grey marble with design by the architect William Kent. The monument features a figure of Newton reclining on top of a sarcophagus, his right elbow resting on several of his great books and his left hand pointing to a scroll with a mathematical design. Above him is a pyramid and a celestial globe showing the signs of the Zodiac and the path of the comet of 1680. A relief panel depicts putti using instruments such as a telescope and prism.[110] The Latin inscription on the base translates as:

Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own, explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of comets, the tides of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no other scholar has previously imagined, the properties of the colours thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of nature, antiquity and the holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and good, and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race! He was born on 25 December 1642, and died on 20 March 1726/7.—Translation from G.L. Smyth, The Monuments and Genii of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and of Westminster Abbey (1826), ii, 703–4.[110]

From 1978 until 1988, an image of Newton designed by Harry Ecclestone appeared on Series D £1 banknotes issued by the Bank of England (the last £1 notes to be issued by the Bank of England). Newton was shown on the reverse of the notes holding a book and accompanied by a telescope, a prism and a map of the Solar System.[111]

Eduardo Paolozzi‘s Newton, after William Blake (1995), outside the British Library

A statue of Isaac Newton, looking at an apple at his feet, can be seen at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. A large bronze statue, Newton, after William Blake, by Eduardo Paolozzi, dated 1995 and inspired by Blake‘s etching, dominates the piazza of the British Library in London.

Religious views

Although born into an Anglican family, by his thirties Newton held a Christian faith that, had it been made public, would not have been considered orthodox by mainstream Christianity;[112] in recent times he has been described as a heretic.[67]

By 1672 he had started to record his theological researches in notebooks which he showed to no one and which have only recently been examined. They demonstrate an extensive knowledge of early church writings and show that in the conflict between Athanasius and Arius which defined the Creed, he took the side of Arius, the loser, who rejected the conventional view of the Trinity. Newton “recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the Father who created him.”[113] He was especially interested in prophecy, but for him, “the great apostasy was trinitarianism.”[114]

Newton tried unsuccessfully to obtain one of the two fellowships that exempted the holder from the ordination requirement. At the last moment in 1675 he received a dispensation from the government that excused him and all future holders of the Lucasian chair.[115]

In Newton’s eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin. [116] Historian Stephen D. Snobelen says, “Isaac Newton was a heretic. But … he never made a public declaration of his private faith—which the orthodox would have deemed extremely radical. He hid his faith so well that scholars are still unravelling his personal beliefs.”[67] Snobelen concludes that Newton was at least a Socinian sympathiser (he owned and had thoroughly read at least eight Socinian books), possibly an  and almost certainly an anti-trinitarian.[67]

In a minority view, T.C. Pfizenmaier argues that Newton held the Eastern Orthodox view on the Trinity.[117] However, this type of view ‘has lost support of late with the availability of Newton’s theological papers’,[118] and now most scholars identify Newton as an Antitrinitarian monotheist.[67][119]

Although the laws of motion and universal gravitation became Newton’s best-known discoveries, he warned against using them to view the Universe as a mere machine, as if akin to a great clock. He said, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”[120]

Along with his scientific fame, Newton’s studies of the Bible and of the early Church Fathers were also noteworthy. Newton wrote works on textual criticism, most notably An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture and Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.[121] He placed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at 3 April, AD 33, which agrees with one traditionally accepted date.[122]

He believed in a rationally immanent world, but he rejected the hylozoism implicit in Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza. The ordered and dynamically informed Universe could be understood, and must be understood, by an active reason. In his correspondence, Newton claimed that in writing the Principia “I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity”.[123] He saw evidence of design in the system of the world: “Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary system must be allowed the effect of choice”. But Newton insisted that divine intervention would eventually be required to reform the system, due to the slow growth of instabilities.[124] For this, Leibniz lampooned him: “God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time: otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.”[125]

Newton’s position was vigorously defended by his follower Samuel Clarke in a famous correspondence. A century later, Pierre-Simon Laplace‘s work “Celestial Mechanics” had a natural explanation for why the planet orbits do not require periodic divine intervention.[126]

Effect on religious thought

Newton, by William Blake; here, Newton is depicted critically as a “divine geometer”. This copy of the work is currently held by the Tate Collection.[127]

Newton and Robert Boyle‘s approach to the mechanical philosophy was promoted by rationalist pamphleteers as a viable alternative to the pantheists and enthusiasts, and was accepted hesitantly by orthodox preachers as well as dissident preachers like the latitudinarians.[128] The clarity and simplicity of science was seen as a way to combat the emotional and metaphysical superlatives of both superstitious enthusiasm and the threat of atheism,[129] and at the same time, the second wave of English deists used Newton’s discoveries to demonstrate the possibility of a “Natural Religion”.

The attacks made against pre-Enlightenment “magical thinking”, and the mystical elements of Christianity, were given their foundation with Boyle’s mechanical conception of the Universe. Newton gave Boyle’s ideas their completion through mathematical proofs and, perhaps more importantly, was very successful in popularising them.[130]

Occult

In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 (never intended to be published) he mentions the date of 2060, but it is not given as a date for the end of days. It has been falsely reported as a prediction.[131] The passage is clear, when the date is read in context. He was against date setting for the end of days, concerned that this would put Christianity into disrepute.

“So then the time times & half a time [sic] are 42 months or 1260 days or three years & an half, recconing twelve months to a year & 30 days to a month as was done in the Calender [sic] of the primitive year. And the days of short lived Beasts being put for the years of [long-]lived kingdoms the period of 1260 days, if dated from the complete conquest of the three kings A.C. 800, will end 2060. It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner.”[132]

“This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail. Christ comes as a thief in the night, and it is not for us to know the times and seasons which God hath put into his own .”[133][131]

Alchemy

In the character of Morton Opperly in “Poor Superman” (1951), speculative fiction author Fritz Leiber says of Newton, “Everyone knows Newton as the great scientist. Few remember that he spent half his life muddling with alchemy, looking for the philosopher’s stone. That was the pebble by the seashore he really wanted to find.”[134]

Of an estimated ten million words of writing in Newton’s papers, about one million deal with alchemy. Many of Newton’s writings on alchemy are copies of other manuscripts, with his own annotations.[90] Alchemical texts mix artisanal knowledge with philosophical speculation, often hidden behind layers of wordplay, allegory, and imagery to protect craft secrets.[135] Some of the content contained in Newton’s papers could have been considered heretical by the church.[90]

In 1888, after spending sixteen years cataloging Newton’s papers, Cambridge University kept a small number and returned the rest to the Earl of Portsmouth. In 1936, a descendant offered the papers for sale at Sotheby’s.[136] The collection was broken up and sold for a total of about £9,000.[137] John Maynard Keynes was one of about three dozen bidders who obtained part of the collection at auction. Keynes went on to reassemble an estimated half of Newton’s collection of papers on alchemy before donating his collection to Cambridge University in 1946.[90][136][138]

All of Newton’s known writings on alchemy are currently being put online in a project undertaken by Indiana University: “The Chymistry of Isaac Newton”.[139]

Newton’s fundamental contributions to science include the quantification of gravitational attraction, the discovery that white light is actually a mixture of immutable spectral colors, and the formulation of the calculus. Yet there is another, more mysterious side to Newton that is imperfectly known, a realm of activity that spanned some thirty years of his life, although he kept it largely hidden from his contemporaries and colleagues. We refer to Newton’s involvement in the discipline of alchemy, or as it was often called in seventeenth-century England, “chymistry.”[139]

Enlightenment philosophers

Enlightenment philosophers chose a short history of scientific predecessors – Galileo, Boyle, and Newton principally – as the guides and guarantors of their applications of the singular concept of nature and natural law to every physical and social field of the day. In this respect, the lessons of history and the social structures built upon it could be discarded.[140]

It was Newton’s conception of the universe based upon natural and rationally understandable laws that became one of the seeds for Enlightenment ideology.[141] Locke and Voltaire applied concepts of natural law to political systems advocating intrinsic rights; the physiocrats and Adam Smith applied natural conceptions of psychologyand self-interest to economic systems; and sociologists criticised the current social order for trying to fit history into natural models of progressMonboddo and Samuel Clarke resisted elements of Newton’s work, but eventually rationalised it to conform with their strong religious views of nature.

Apple incident

Reputed descendants of Newton’s apple tree (from top to bottom) at Trinity College, Cambridge, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, and the Instituto Balseiro library garden

Newton himself often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree.[142][143] Although it has been said that the apple story is a myth and that he did not arrive at his theory of gravity in any single moment,[144] acquaintances of Newton (such as William Stukeley, whose manuscript account of 1752 has been made available by the Royal Society) do in fact confirm the incident, though not the apocryphal version that the apple actually hit Newton’s head. Stukeley recorded in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life a conversation with Newton in Kensington on 15 April 1726:[145][146][147]

we went into the garden, & drank thea under the shade of some appletrees, only he, & myself. amidst other discourse, he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to him self: occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a comtemplative mood: “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths centre? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. there must be a drawing power in matter. & the sum of the drawing power in the matter of the earth must be in the earths center, not in any side of the earth. therefore dos this apple fall perpendicularly, or toward the center. if matter thus draws matter; it must be in proportion of its quantity. therefore the apple draws the earth, as well as the earth draws the apple.”

John Conduitt, Newton’s assistant at the Royal Mint and husband of Newton’s niece, also described the event when he wrote about Newton’s life:[148]

In the year 1666 he retired again from Cambridge to his mother in Lincolnshire. Whilst he was pensively meandering in a garden it came into his thought that the power of gravity (which brought an apple from a tree to the ground) was not limited to a certain distance from earth, but that this power must extend much further than was usually thought. Why not as high as the Moon said he to himself & if so, that must influence her motion & perhaps retain her in her orbit, whereupon he fell a calculating what would be the effect of that supposition.

In similar terms, Voltaire wrote in his Essay on Epic Poetry (1727), “Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens, had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree.”

It is known from his notebooks that Newton was grappling in the late 1660s with the idea that terrestrial gravity extends, in an inverse-square proportion, to the Moon; however it took him two decades to develop the full-fledged theory.[149] The question was not whether gravity existed, but whether it extended so far from Earth that it could also be the force holding the Moon to its orbit. Newton showed that if the force decreased as the inverse square of the distance, one could indeed calculate the Moon’s orbital period, and get good agreement. He guessed the same force was responsible for other orbital motions, and hence named it “universal gravitation”.

Various trees are claimed to be “the” apple tree which Newton describes. The King’s School, Grantham, claims that the tree was purchased by the school, uprooted and transported to the headmaster’s garden some years later. The staff of the (now) National Trust-owned Woolsthorpe Manor dispute this, and claim that a tree present in their gardens is the one described by Newton. A descendant of the original tree[150] can be seen growing outside the main gate of Trinity College, Cambridge, below the room Newton lived in when he studied there. The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale[151] can supply grafts from their tree, which appears identical to Flower of Kent, a coarse-fleshed cooking variety.[152]

Works

Published in his lifetime

Published posthumously

Primary sources

  • Newton, Isaac. The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. University of California Press, (1999)
    • Brackenridge, J. Bruce. The Key to Newton’s Dynamics: The Kepler Problem and the Principia: Containing an English Translation of Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Book One from the First (1687) Edition of Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, University of California Press (1996)
  • Newton, Isaac. The Optical Papers of Isaac Newton. Vol. 1: The Optical Lectures, 1670–1672, Cambridge University Press (1984)
    • Newton, Isaac. Opticks (4th ed. 1730) online edition
    • Newton, I. (1952). Opticks, or A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections & Colours of Light. New York: Dover Publications.
  • Newton, I. Sir Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and His System of the World, tr. A. Motte, rev. Florian Cajori. Berkeley: University of California Press (1934)
  • Whiteside, D.T., ed. (1967–1982). The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-07740-8. – 8 volumes.
  • Newton, Isaac. The correspondence of Isaac Newton, ed. H.W. Turnbull and others, 7 vols (1959–77)
  • Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from His Writings edited by H.S. Thayer (1953; online edition)
  • Isaac Newton, Sir; J Edleston; Roger CotesCorrespondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, including letters of other eminent men, London, John W. Parker, West Strand; Cambridge, John Deighton (1850, Google Books)
  • Maclaurin, C. (1748). An Account of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophical Discoveries, in Four Books. London: A. Millar and J. Nourse
  • Newton, I. (1958). Isaac Newton’s Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy and Related Documents, eds. I. B. Cohen and R. E. Schofield. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
  • Newton, I. (1962). The Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Newton: A Selection from the Portsmouth Collection in the University Library, Cambridge, ed. A. R. Hall and M. B. Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Newton, I. (1975). Isaac Newton’s ‘Theory of the Moon’s Motion’ (1702). London: Dawson

See also

References

  1. Jump up to:a b c d e During Newton’s lifetime, two calendars were in use in Europe: the Julian(“Old Style“) calendar in Protestant and Orthodox regions, including Britain; and the Gregorian (“New Style“) calendar in Roman Catholic Europe. At Newton’s birth, Gregorian dates were ten days ahead of Julian dates: thus his birth is recorded as taking place on 25 December 1642 Old Style, but can be converted to a New Style (modern) date of 4 January 1643. By the time of his death, the difference between the calendars had increased to eleven days: moreover, he died in the period after the start of the New Style year on 1 January, but before that of the Old Style new year on 25 March. His death occurred on 20 March 1726 according to the Old Style calendar, but the year is usually adjusted to 1727. A full conversion to New Style gives the date 31 March 1727. See Thony, Christie (2015) Calendrical confusion or just when did Newton die?, The Renaissance Mathematicus, retrieved 20 March 2015 from https://thonyc.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/calendrical-confusion-or-just-when-did-newton-die/
  2. Jump up to:a b “Fellows of the Royal Society”. London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 16 March 2015.
  3. ^ Feingold, Mordechai. Barrow, Isaac (1630–1677)Oxford Dictionary of National BiographyOxford University Press, September 2004; online edn, May 2007; retrieved 24 February 2009; explained further in Mordechai Feingold’s “Newton, Leibniz, and Barrow Too: An Attempt at a Reinterpretation” in Isis, Vol. 84, No. 2 (June 1993), pp. 310–338.
  4. ^ “Dictionary of Scientific Biography”. Notes, #4. Archived from the original on 25 February 2005.
  5. ^ Gjertsen 1986, p. [page needed]
  6. ^ “Isaac Newton, horoscope for birth date 25 December 1642 Jul.Cal”Astro-Databank Wiki. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  7. ^ Storr, Anthony (December 1985). “Isaac Newton”. British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition)291 (6511): 1779–1784. doi:10.1136/bmj.291.6511.1779JSTOR 29521701.
  8. ^ Keynes, Milo (20 September 2008). “Balancing Newton’s Mind: His Singular Behaviour and His Madness of 1692–93”. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London62 (3): 289–300. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2007.0025JSTOR 20462679PMID 19244857.
  9. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 55.
  10. ^ “Newton the Mathematician” Z. Bechler, ed., Contemporary Newtonian Research(Dordrecht 1982) pp 110 – 111
  11. ^ Westfall 1994, pp. 16–19.
  12. ^ White 1997, p. 22.
  13. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 60–62.
  14. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 71,103.
  15. ^ Hoskins, Michael, ed. (1997). Cambridge Illustrated History of AstronomyCambridge University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0521411585.
  16. ^ Newton, Isaac. “Waste Book”. Cambridge University Digital Library. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  17. ^ “Newton, Isaac (RY644J)”A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  18. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 178.
  19. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 330–1.
  20. ^ Bolton, S.K. (1889). Famous Men of Science. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.
  21. ^ Ball 1908, p. 319.
  22. ^ Whiteside, D.T., ed. (1967). “Part 7: The October 1666 Tract on Fluxions”. The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton1. Cambridge University Press. p. 400..
  23. ^ Gjertsen 1986, p. 149.
  24. ^ Newton, Principia, 1729 English translation, p. 41.
  25. ^ Newton, Principia, 1729 English translation, p. 54.
  26. ^ Clifford Truesdell, Essays in the History of Mechanics (1968), p. 99.
  27. ^ In the preface to the Marquis de L’Hospital’s Analyse des Infiniment Petits (Paris, 1696).
  28. ^ Starting with De motu corporum in gyrum, see also (Latin) Theorem 1.
  29. ^ Whiteside, D.T., ed. (1970). “The Mathematical principles underlying Newton’s Principia Mathematica”. Journal for the History of Astronomy1. Cambridge University Press. pp. 116–138.
  30. ^ Stewart 2009, p. 107.
  31. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 538–539.
  32. ^ Ball 1908, p. 356.
  33. ^ Błaszczyk, P.; et al. (March 2013). “Ten misconceptions from the history of analysis and their debunking”. Foundations of Science18 (1): 43–74. arXiv:1202.4153doi:10.1007/s10699-012-9285-8.
  34. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 179.
  35. ^ White 1997, p. 151.
  36. ^ King, Henry C (2003). The History of the Telescope. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-486-43265-6.
  37. ^ Whittaker, E. T.A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity, Dublin University Press, 1910.
  38. ^ Olivier Darrigol (26 January 2012). A History of Optics from Greek Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century. Oxford University Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-19-964437-7.
  39. ^ Newton, Isaac. “Hydrostatics, Optics, Sound and Heat”. Cambridge University Digital Library. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  40. ^ Ball 1908, p. 324.
  41. ^ William R. Newman, “Newton’s Early Optical Theory and its Debt to Chymistry,” in Danielle Jacquart and Michel Hochmann, eds., Lumière et vision dans les sciences et dans les arts (Geneva: Droz, 2010), pp. 283–307. A free access online version of this article can be found at the Chymistry of Isaac Newton project
  42. ^ Ball 1908, p. 325.
  43. ^ “The Early Period (1608–1672)”. James R. Graham’s Home Page. Retrieved 3 February 2009.[permanent dead link]
  44. Jump up to:a b White 1997, p. 170
  45. ^ Hall, Alfred Rupert (1996). Isaac Newton: adventurer in thought. Cambridge University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-521-56669-8OCLC 606137087This is the one dated 23 February 1669, in which Newton described his first reflecting telescope, constructed (it seems) near the close of the previous year.
  46. ^ White 1997, p. 168.
  47. ^ Newton, Isaac. “Of Colours”The Newton Project. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  48. Jump up to:a b See ‘Correspondence of Isaac Newton, vol. 2, 1676–1687’ ed. H W Turnbull, Cambridge University Press 1960; at page 297, document No. 235, letter from Hooke to Newton dated 24 November 1679.
  49. ^ Iliffe, Robert (2007) Newton. A very short introduction, Oxford University Press 2007
  50. Jump up to:a b Westfall, Richard S. (1983) [1980]. Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 530–1. ISBN 978-0-521-27435-7.
  51. Jump up to:a b Keynes, John Maynard (1972). “Newton, The Man”. The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes Volume X. MacMillan St. Martin’s Press. pp. 363–4.
  52. ^ Dobbs, J.T. (December 1982). “Newton’s Alchemy and His Theory of Matter”. Isis73 (4): 523. doi:10.1086/353114. quoting Opticks
  53. ^ Opticks, 2nd Ed 1706. Query 8.
  54. Jump up to:a b Duarte, F. J. (2000). “Newton, prisms, and the ‘opticks’ of tunable lasers”(PDF)Optics and Photonics News11 (5): 24–25. Bibcode:2000OptPN..11…24Ddoi:10.1364/OPN.11.5.000024.
  55. ^ Tyndall, John. (1880). Popular Science Monthly Volume 17, July. s:Popular Science Monthly/Volume 17/July 1880/Goethe’s Farbenlehre: Theory of Colors II
  56. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 391–2.
  57. ^ Whiteside, D.T., ed. (1974). Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton, 1684–16916. Cambridge University Press. p. 30.
  58. ^ See Curtis Wilson, “The Newtonian achievement in astronomy”, pages 233–274 in R Taton & C Wilson (eds) (1989) The General History of Astronomy, Volume, 2A’, at page 233.
  59. ^ Text quotations are from 1729 translation of Newton’s Principia, Book 3 (1729 vol.2) at pages 232–233.
  60. ^ Edelglass et al., Matter and MindISBN 0-940262-45-2. p. 54
  61. ^ On the meaning and origins of this expression, see Kirsten Walsh, Does Newton feign an hypothesis?Early Modern Experimental Philosophy, 18 October 2010.
  62. ^ Westfall 1980, Chapter 11.
  63. Jump up to:a b Professor Robert A. Hatch, University of Florida. “Newton Timeline”. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  64. ^ Conics and Cubics, Robert Bix, Springer Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics, 2nd edition, 2006, Springer Verlag.
  65. ^ “John Locke Manuscripts – Chronological Listing: 1690”psu.edu.; and John C. Attig, John Locke Bibliography — Chapter 5, Religion, 1751–1900
  66. ^ Brewster states that Newton was never known as an  during his lifetime, it was William Whiston, an , who first argued that “Sir Isaac Newton was so hearty for the Baptists, as well as for the Eusebians or Arians, that he sometimes suspected these two were the two witnesses in the Revelations,” while others like Hopton Haynes (a Mint employee and Humanitarian), “mentioned to Richard Baron, that Newton held the same doctrine as himself”. David Brewster. Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton. p. 268.
  67. Jump up to:a b c d e Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). “Isaac Newton, heretic: the strategies of a Nicodemite” (PDF)British Journal for the History of Science32 (4): 381–419. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003751.
  68. ^ White 1997, p. 232.
  69. ^ Patrick Sawer (6 September 2016). “What students should avoid during fresher’s week (100 years ago and now)”Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
  70. ^ “Isaac Newton: Physicist And … Crime Fighter?”Science FridayTranscript. 5 June 2009. NPR. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  71. ^ Levenson, Thomas (2009). Newton and the counterfeiter: the unknown detective career of the world’s greatest scientist. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-15-101278-7OCLC 276340857.
  72. ^ White 1997, p. 259.
  73. ^ White 1997, p. 267.
  74. ^ Newton, Isaac. “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica”. Cambridge University Digital Library. pp. 265–266. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  75. ^ Westfall 2007, p. 73.
  76. ^ Wagner, Anthony (1972). Historic Heraldry of Britain (2nd ed.). London and Chichester: Phillimore. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-85033-022-9.; and Genealogical Memoranda Relating to the Family of Newton. London: Taylor and Co. 1871.
  77. ^ On the Value of Gold and Silver in European Currencies and the Consequences on the Worldwide Gold- and Silver-Trade, Sir Isaac Newton, 21 September 1717; “By The King, A Proclamation Declaring the Rates at which Gold shall be current in Payments”Royal Numismatic SocietyV. April 1842 – January 1843.
  78. ^ Fay, C.R. (1 January 1935). “Newton and the Gold Standard”. Cambridge Historical Journal5 (1): 109–117. doi:10.1017/S1474691300001256JSTOR 3020836.
  79. ^ “Sir Isaac Newton’s Unpublished Manuscripts Explain Connections He Made Between Alchemy and Economics”. Georgia Tech Research News. 12 September 2006. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  80. ^ White 1997, p. 317.
  81. ^ “The Queen’s ‘great Assistance’ to Newton’s election was his knighting, an honor bestowed not for his contributions to science, nor for his service at the Mint, but for the greater glory of party politics in the election of 1705.” Westfall 1994, p. 245
  82. ^ “This Day in History: Isaac Newton is Knighted”History Channel. A&E Television Networks. 20 June 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2014.; and Barnham, Kay (2014). Isaac Newton. 2014: Raintree. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4109-6235-5.
  83. ^ Holodny, Elena (21 January 2016). “Isaac Newton was a genius, but even he lost millions in the stock market”. Business Insider. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  84. ^ Yonge, Charlotte M. (1898). “Cranbury and Brambridge”John Keble‘s Parishes – Chapter 6. online-literature.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  85. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 44.
  86. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 595.
  87. ^ “No. 6569”The London Gazette. 1 April 1727. p. 7.
  88. ^ Dobre and Nyden suggest that there is no clear evidence that Voltaire was present; see page 89 of Mihnea Dobre, Tammy Nyden (2013). Cartesian Empiricism. Springer. ISBN 978-94-007-7690-6.
  89. Jump up to:a b “Newton, Isaac (1642–1727)”Eric Weisstein’s World of Biography. Eric W. Weisstein. Retrieved 30 August 2006.
  90. Jump up to:a b c d Mann, Adam (14 May 2014). “The Strange, Secret History of Isaac Newton’s Papers”Science. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  91. ^ This claim was made by William Stukeley in 1727, in a letter about Newton written to Richard MeadCharles Hutton, who in the late eighteenth century collected traditions about earlier scientists, declared that there “do not appear to be any sufficient reason for his never marrying, if he had an inclination so to do. It is much more likely that he had a constitutional indifference to the state, and even to the in general.” Charles Hutton, A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary (1795/6), vol. 2, p. 100.
  92. ^ Voltaire (1894). “14”Letters on England. p. 100.
  93. ^ Hutton, Charles (1815). A Philosophical and Mathematical Dictionary Containing … Memoirs of the Lives and Writings of the Most Eminent Authors, Volume 2. p. 100.
  94. ^ Keynes, John Maynard. “Newton: the Man”University of St Andrews School of Mathematics and Statistics. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  95. ^ Sagan, Carl (1980). Cosmos. New York: Random House. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-394-50294-6.
  96. ^ “Duillier, Nicholas Fatio de (1664–1753) mathematician and natural philosopher”. Janus database. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  97. ^ “Collection Guide: Fatio de Duillier, Nicolas [Letters to Isaac Newton]”. Online Archive of California. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  98. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 493–497 on the friendship with Fatio, pp 531–540 on Newton’s breakdown.
  99. ^ Manuel 1968, p. 219.
  100. ^ Fred L. Wilson, History of Science: Newton citing: Delambre, M. “Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. le comte J. L. Lagrange,” Oeuvres de Lagrange I. Paris, 1867, p. xx.
  101. ^ Letter from Isaac Newton to Robert Hooke, 5 February 1676, as transcribed in Jean-Pierre Maury (1992) Newton: Understanding the Cosmos, ‘New Horizons‘ series.
  102. ^ John Gribbin (2002) Science: A History 1543–2001, p 164.
  103. ^ White 1997, p. 187.
  104. ^ Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) by Sir David Brewster (Volume II. Ch. 27)
  105. ^ “Silly relic-worship”The New York Times. 16 January 1881. p. 10. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  106. Jump up to:a b Cunningham, Antonia, ed. (April 2002). Guinness World Records 2002ISBN 9780553583786. Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  107. ^ “Einstein’s Heroes: Imagining the World through the Language of Mathematics”, by Robyn Arianrhod UQP, reviewed by Jane Gleeson-White, 10 November 2003, The Sydney Morning Herald
  108. ^ “Newton beats Einstein in polls of Royal Society scientists and the public”The Royal Society.
  109. ^ “Opinion poll. Einstein voted “greatest physicist ever” by leading physicists; Newton runner-up”. BBC News. 29 November 1999. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  110. Jump up to:a b “Famous People & the Abbey: Sir Isaac Newton”. Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  111. ^ “Withdrawn banknotes reference guide”. Bank of England. Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  112. ^ Richard S. Westfall – Indiana University The Galileo Project. (Rice University). Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  113. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 315.
  114. ^ Westfall 1980, p. 321.
  115. ^ Westfall 1980, pp. 331–334.
  116. ^ Westfall 1994, p. 124.
  117. ^ Pfizenmaier, T.C. (1997). “Was Isaac Newton an ?”. Journal of the History of Ideas58 (1): 57–80. Bibcode:1961JHI….22..215Cdoi:10.1353/jhi.1997.0001.
  118. ^ Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). “Isaac Newton, heretic: the strategies of a Nicodemite” (PDF)British Journal for the History of Science32 (4): 381–419 [383]. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003751. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2013.
  119. ^ Avery Cardinal Dulles. The Deist Minimum (January 2005).
  120. ^ Tiner, J.H. (1975). Isaac Newton: Inventor, Scientist and Teacher. Milford, Michigan, U.S.: Mott Media. ISBN 978-0-915134-95-3.
  121. ^ Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John1733
  122. ^ John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew, v. 1, pp. 382–402. after narrowing the years to 30 or 33, provisionally judges 30 most likely.
  123. ^ Newton to Richard Bentley 10 December 1692, in Turnbull et al. (1959–77), vol 3, p. 233.
  124. ^ Opticks, 2nd Ed 1706. Query 31.
  125. ^ H. G. Alexander (ed) The Leibniz-Clarke correspondenceManchester University Press, 1998, p. 11.
  126. ^ Tyson, Neil Degrasse (1 November 2005). “The Perimeter of Ignorance”Natural History Magazine. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  127. ^ “Newton, object 1 (Butlin 306) “NewtonWilliam Blake Archive. 25 September 2013.
  128. ^ Jacob, Margaret C. (1976). The Newtonians and the English Revolution: 1689–1720. Cornell University Press. pp. 37, 44. ISBN 978-0-85527-066-7.
  129. ^ Westfall, Richard S. (1958). Science and Religion in Seventeenth-Century England. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-208-00843-5.
  130. ^ Haakonssen, Knud (30 May 1996). “The Enlightenment, politics and providence: some Scottish and English comparisons”. In Martin Fitzpatrick. Enlightenment and Religion: Rational Dissent in Eighteenth-century Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-521-56060-3.
  131. Jump up to:a b Isaac Newton and Apocalypse Now: a response to Tom Harpur’s “Newton’s strange bedfellows” Stephen D. Snobelen
  132. ^ Grayling, A. C. (10 March 2016). The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern MindISBN 9781408843291.
  133. ^ “Papers Show Isaac Newton’s Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse”. Associated Press. 19 June 2007. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 1 August 2007.
  134. ^ Leiber, Fritz (1981). “Poor Superman”. In Heinlein, Robert A. Tomorrow, the Stars(16th ed.). New York: Berkley Book / published by arrangement with Doubleday & Company, Inc. p. 208. First published in Galaxy magazine, July 1951; Variously titled Appointment in Tomorrow; in some reprints of Leiber’s story the sentence ‘That was the pebble..’ is replaced by ‘Which Newton did the world need then?’
  135. ^ Meyer, Michal (2014). “Gold, secrecy and prestige”Chemical Heritage Magazine32 (1): 42–43. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  136. Jump up to:a b Kean, Sam (2011). “Newton, The Last Magician”Humanities32 (1). Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  137. ^ Greshko, Michael (4 April 2016). “Isaac Newton’s Lost Alchemy Recipe Rediscovered”National Geographic.
  138. ^ Dry, Sarah (2014). The Newton papers : the strange and true odyssey of Isaac Newton’s manuscripts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199951048.
  139. Jump up to:a b “The Chymistry of Isaac Newton”Indiana University, Bloomington. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  140. ^ Cassels, Alan. Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World. p. 2.
  141. ^ “Although it was just one of the many factors in the Enlightment, the success of Newtonian physics in providing a mathematical description of an ordered world clearly played a big part in the flowering of this movement in the eighteenth century” by John Gribbin, Science: A History 1543–2001 (2002), p. 241
  142. ^ White 1997, p. 86.
  143. ^ Numbers 2015, pp. 48–56.
  144. ^ Berkun, Scott (27 August 2010). The Myths of Innovation. O’Reilly Media, Inc. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-4493-8962-8.
  145. ^ “Newton’s apple: The real story”New Scientist. 18 January 2010. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
  146. ^ Hamblyn, Richard (2011). “Newtonian Apples: William Stukeley”The Art of SciencePan MacmillanISBN 978-1-4472-0415-2.
  147. ^ “Revised Memoir of Newton (Normalized Version)”The Newton Project. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  148. ^ Conduitt, John. “Keynes Ms. 130.4:Conduitt’s account of Newton’s life at Cambridge”Newtonproject. Imperial College London. Retrieved 30 August 2006.
  149. ^ I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Newton (2002) p. 6
  150. ^ Alberto A. Martinez Science Secrets: The Truth about Darwin’s Finches, Einstein’s Wife, and Other Myths, page 69 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011); ISBN 978-0-8229-4407-2
  151. ^ “Brogdale – Home of the National Fruit Collection”. Brogdale.org. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2008.
  152. ^ “From the National Fruit Collection: Isaac Newton’s Tree”. Retrieved 10 January2009.[permanent dead link]
  153. ^ Anders Hald 2003 – A history of probability and statistics and their applications before 1750 – 586 pages Volume 501 of Wiley series in probability and statisticsWiley-IEEE, 2003 Retrieved 27 January 2012 ISBN 0-471-47129-1
  154. ^ “Home”The Chymistry of Isaac Newton. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2007. Transcribed and online at Indiana University.
  155. ^ Whiteside, D.T., ed. (1974). Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton, 1684–16916. Cambridge University Press. pp. 30–91.
  156. ^ “Museum of London exhibit including facsimile of title page from John Flamsteed’s copy of 1687 edition of Newton’s Principia. Museumoflondon.org.uk. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  157. ^ Published anonymously as “Scala graduum Caloris. Calorum Descriptiones & signa.” in Philosophical Transactions, 1701, 824–829; ed. Joannes Nichols, Isaaci Newtoni Opera quae exstant omnia, vol. 4 (1782), 403–407. Mark P. Silverman, A Universe of Atoms, An Atom in the Universe, Springer, 2002, p. 49.
  158. ^ Newton, Isaac (1704). Opticks or, a Treatise of the reflexions, refractions, inflexions and colours of light . Also two treatises of the species and magnitude of curvilinear figures. Sam. Smith. and Benj. Walford.
  159. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Pickover, Clifford (16 April 2008). Archimedes to Hawking: Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them. Oxford University Press. pp. 117–118. ISBN 9780199792689. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  160. ^ Swetz, Frank J. “Mathematical Treasure: Newton’s Method of Fluxions”Convergence. Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 17 March 2018.

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Andrade, E.N.De C. (1950). Isaac Newton. New York: Chanticleer Press. ISBN 978-0-8414-3014-3.
  • Bechler, Zev (1991). Newton’s Physics and the Conceptual Structure of the Scientific Revolution. Springer. ISBN 978-0-7923-1054-9.
  • Bechler, Zev (2013). Contemporary Newtonian Research (Studies in the History of Modern Science)(Volume 9). Springer. ISBN 978-9400977174.
  • Berlinski, David. Newton’s Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World. (2000); ISBN 0-684-84392-7
  • Buchwald, Jed Z. and Cohen, I. Bernard (eds.) Isaac Newton’s Natural PhilosophyMIT Press (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Casini, P (1988). “Newton’s Principia and the Philosophers of the Enlightenment”. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London42 (1): 35–52. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1988.0006ISSN 0035-9149JSTOR 531368.
  • Christianson, Gale E. (1996). Isaac Newton and the Scientific RevolutionOxford University PressISBN 978-0-19-530070-3. See this site for excerpt and text search.
  • Christianson, Gale (1984). In the Presence of the Creator: Isaac Newton & His Times. New York: Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-905190-0.
  • Cohen, I. Bernard and Smith, George E., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Newton.(2002). Focuses on philosophical issues only; excerpt and text searchcomplete edition online
  • Cohen, I.B. (1980). The Newtonian Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-22964-7.
  • Craig, John (1946). Newton at the Mint. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dampier, William C.; Dampier, M. (1959). Readings in the Literature of Science. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-486-42805-5.
  • de Villamil, Richard (1931). Newton, the Man. London, UK: G.D. Knox. – Preface by Albert Einstein. Reprinted by Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York (1972)
  • Dobbs, B.J.T. (1975). The Foundations of Newton’s Alchemy or “The Hunting of the Greene Lyon”. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Eamon Duffy, “Far from the Tree” (review of Rob Iliffe, Priest of Nature: the Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017, ISBN 9780199995356), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXV, no. 4 (8 March 2018), pp. 28–29.
  • Gjertsen, Derek (1986). The Newton Handbook. London, UK: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7102-0279-6.
  • Gleick, James (2003). Isaac Newton. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-375-42233-1.
  • Halley, E. (1687). “Review of Newton’s Principia”. Philosophical Transactions186: 291–97.
  • Hawking, Stephen, ed. On the Shoulders of GiantsISBN 0-7624-1348-4 Places selections from Newton’s Principia in the context of selected writings by Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Einstein
  • Herivel, J. W. (1965). The Background to Newton’s Principia. A Study of Newton’s Dynamical Researches in the Years 1664–84. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Iliffe, Rob (2017). Priest of Nature: the religious worlds of Isaac Newton. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199995356.
  • Keynes, John Maynard (1963). Essays in Biography. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 978-0-393-00189-1. Keynes took a close interest in Newton and owned many of Newton’s private papers.
  • Koyré, A (1965). Newtonian Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Newton, Isaac. Papers and Letters in Natural Philosophy, edited by I. Bernard CohenHarvard University Press, 1958, 1978; ISBN 0-674-46853-8.
  • Newton, Isaac (1642–1727). The Principia: a new Translation, Guide by I. Bernard Cohen; ISBN 0-520-08817-4, University of California (1999)
  • Numbers, R.L. (2015). Newton’s Apple and Other Myths about Science. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674915473.
  • Pemberton, H. (1728). “A View of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy”. The Physics Teacher4 (1): 8–9. Bibcode:1966PhTea…4….8Mdoi:10.1119/1.2350900.
  • Shamos, Morris H. (1959). Great Experiments in Physics. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-486-25346-6.
  • Shapley, Harlow, S. Rapport, and H. Wright. A Treasury of Science; “Newtonia” pp. 147–149.; “Discoveries” pp. 150–154. Harper & Bros., New York, (1946).
  • Simmons, J (1996). The Giant Book of Scientists – The 100 Greatest Minds of all Time. Sydney: The Book Company.
  • Stukeley, W. (1936). Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life. London, UK: Taylor and Francis. (edited by A.H. White; originally published in 1752)
  • Trabue, J. “Ann and Arthur Storer of Calvert County, Maryland, Friends of Sir Isaac Newton,” The American Genealogist 79 (2004): 13–27.
  • Westfall, R.S. (1971). Force in Newton’s Physics: The Science of Dynamics in the Seventeenth Century. London, UK: Macdonald. ISBN 978-0-444-19611-8.

Religion

  • Dobbs, Betty Jo Tetter. The Janus Faces of Genius: The Role of Alchemy in Newton’s Thought. (1991), links the alchemy to Arianism
  • Force, James E., and Richard H. Popkin, eds. Newton and Religion: Context, Nature, and Influence. (1999), pp. xvii, 325.; 13 papers by scholars using newly opened manuscripts
  • Pfizenmaier, Thomas C. (January 1997). “Was Isaac Newton an ?”. Journal of the History of Ideas58 (1): 57–80. Bibcode:1961JHI….22..215Cdoi:10.1353/jhi.1997.0001JSTOR 3653988.
  • Ramati, Ayval. “The Hidden Truth of Creation: Newton’s Method of Fluxions” British Journal for the History of Science 34: 417–38. in JSTOR, argues that his calculus had a theological basis
  • Snobelen, Stephen “‘God of Gods, and Lord of Lords’: The Theology of Isaac Newton’s General Scholium to the Principia”, Osiris 2nd series, Vol. 16, (2001), pp. 169–208. in JSTOR
  • Snobelen, Stephen D. (1999). “Isaac Newton, Heretic: The Strategies of a Nicodemite”. British Journal for the History of Science32 (4): 381–419. doi:10.1017/S0007087499003751JSTOR 4027945.
  • Wiles, Maurice. Archetypal Heresy. Arianism through the Centuries. (1996) 214 pages, with chapter 4 on eighteenth century England; pp. 77–93. on Newton, excerpt and text search.

External links

Writings by Newton

jallianwalabagh massacre

One of the most prominent form of non voilent protests was holding peaceful meetings to discuss problems that Indians faced because of british. One such meeting was held at  jallianwalabagh, Punjab. This was not liked by the british  officer, General Dyer . he arrived at the park and without giving a warning to the people , he ordered fire . he blocked the only gate of the park and fired at the people . Thousands of people were killed in the massacre .  This led Ghandiji to start the Non – corporation movement  https://youtu.be/XE9_zB8k_lk

atlantis

Athanasius Kircher‘s map of Atlantis, placing it in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, from Mundus Subterraneus 1669, published in Amsterdam. The map is oriented with south at the top.

Atlantis (Ancient GreekἈτλαντὶς νῆσος, “island of Atlas“) is a fictional island mentioned within an allegory[citation needed] on the hubris of nations in Plato‘s works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges “Ancient Athens”, the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato’s ideal state in The Republic. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the known world,[1] supposedly giving testament to the superiority of Plato’s concept of a state.[2][3] The story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favor with the deities and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite its minor importance in Plato’s work, the Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature. The allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Francis Bacon‘s New Atlantis and Thomas More‘s Utopia.[4][5] On the other hand, nineteenth-century amateur scholars misinterpreted Plato’s narrative as historical tradition, most notably in Ignatius L. Donnelly‘s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Plato’s vague indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his time[6]—and the alleged location of Atlantis—”beyond the Pillars of Hercules“—has led to much pseudoscientific speculation.[7] As a consequence, Atlantis has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations and continues to inspire contemporary fiction, from comic books to films.

While present-day philologists and classicists agree on the story’s fictional character,[8][9] there is still debate on what served as its inspiration. As for instance with the story of Gyges,[10] Plato is known to have freely borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors from older traditions. This led a number of scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption,[11][12] the Sea Peoples invasion,[13] or the Trojan War.[14] Others have rejected this chain of tradition as implausible and insist that Plato created an entirely fictional nation as his example,[15][16][17] drawing loose inspiration from contemporary events such as the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC or the destruction of Helike in 373 BC.[18]

Plato’s dialogues

Timaeus

A fifteenth-century Latin translation of Plato’s Timaeus

The only primary sources for Atlantis are Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias; all other mentions of the island are based on them. The dialogues claim to quote Solon, who visited Egypt between 590 and 580 BC; they state that he translated Egyptian records of Atlantis.[19] Written in 360 BC, Plato introduced Atlantis in Timaeus:

For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, ‘the pillars of Heracles,’ there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean. For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.[20]

The four people appearing in those two dialogues are the politicians Critias and Hermocrates as well as the philosophers Socrates and Timaeus of Locri, although only Critias speaks of Atlantis. In his works Plato makes extensive use of the Socratic method in order to discuss contrary positions within the context of a supposition.

The Timaeus begins with an introduction, followed by an account of the creations and structure of the universe and ancient civilizations. In the introduction, Socrates muses about the perfect society, described in Plato’s Republic (c. 380 BC), and wonders if he and his guests might recollect a story which exemplifies such a society. Critias mentions a tale he considered to be historical, that would make the perfect example, and he then follows by describing Atlantis as is recorded in the Critias. In his account, ancient Athens seems to represent the “perfect society” and Atlantis its opponent, representing the very antithesis of the “perfect” traits described in the Republic.

Critias

According to Critias, the Hellenic deities of old divided the land so that each deity might have their own lot; Poseidon was appropriately, and to his liking, bequeathed the island of Atlantis. The island was larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined,[21][22] but it was later sunk by an earthquake and became an impassable mud shoal, inhibiting travel to any part of the ocean. Plato asserted that the Egyptians described Atlantis as an island consisting mostly of mountains in the northern portions and along the shore and encompassing a great plain in an oblong shape in the south “extending in one direction three thousand stadia [about 555 km; 345 mi], but across the center inland it was two thousand stadia [about 370 km; 230 mi].” Fifty stadia [9 km; 6 mi] from the coast was a mountain that was low on all sides … broke it off all round about … the central island itself was five stades in diameter [about 0.92 km; 0.57 mi].

In Plato’s metaphorical tale, Poseidon fell in love with Cleito, the daughter of Evenor and Leucippe, who bore him five pairs of male twins. The eldest of these, Atlas, was made rightful king of the entire island and the ocean (called the Atlantic Ocean in his honor), and was given the mountain of his birth and the surrounding area as his fiefdom. Atlas’s twin Gadeirus, or Eumelus in Greek, was given the extremity of the island toward the pillars of Hercules.[23] The other four pairs of twins—Ampheres and Evaemon, Mneseus and Autochthon, Elasippus and Mestor, and Azaes and Diaprepes—were also given “rule over many men, and a large territory.”

Poseidon carved the mountain where his love dwelt into a palace and enclosed it with three circular moats of increasing width, varying from one to three stadia and separated by rings of land proportional in size. The Atlanteans then built bridges northward from the mountain, making a route to the rest of the island. They dug a great canal to the sea, and alongside the bridges carved tunnels into the rings of rock so that ships could pass into the city around the mountain; they carved docks from the rock walls of the moats. Every passage to the city was guarded by gates and towers, and a wall surrounded each ring of the city. The walls were constructed of red, white, and black rock, quarried from the moats, and were covered with brasstin, and the precious metal orichalcum, respectively.

According to Critias, 9,000 years before his lifetime a war took place between those outside the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar and those who dwelt within them. The Atlanteans had conquered the parts of Libya within the Pillars of Hercules, as far as Egypt, and the European continent as far as Tyrrhenia, and had subjected its people to slavery. The Athenians led an alliance of resistors against the Atlantean empire, and as the alliance disintegrated, prevailed alone against the empire, liberating the occupied lands.

But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.[24]

The logographer Hellanicus of  wrote an earlier work entitled Atlantis, of which only a few fragments survive. Hellanicus’ work appears to have been a genealogical one concerning the daughters of Atlas (Ἀτλαντὶς in Greek means “of Atlas”),[11] but some authors have suggested a possible connection with Plato’s island. John V. Luce notes that when Plato writes about the genealogy of Atlantis’s kings, he writes in the same style as Hellanicus, suggesting a similarity between a fragment of Hellanicus’s work and an account in the Critias.[11] Rodney Castleden suggests that Plato may have borrowed his title from Hellanicus, who may have based his work on an earlier work about Atlantis.[25]

Castleden has pointed out that Plato wrote of Atlantis in 359 BC, when he returned to Athens from Sicily. He notes a number of parallels between the physical organisation and fortifications of Syracuse and Plato’s description of Atlantis.[26] Gunnar Rudberg was the first who elaborated upon the idea that Plato’s attempt to realize his political ideas in the city of Syracuse could have heavily inspired the Atlantis account.[27]

Interpretations

Ancient

Some ancient writers viewed Atlantis as fictional or metaphorical myth; others believed it to be real.[28] Aristotle believed that Plato, his teacher, had invented the island to teach philosophy.[19] The philosopher Crantor, a student of Plato’s student Xenocrates, is cited often as an example of a writer who thought the story to be historical fact. His work, a commentary on Timaeus, is lost, but Proclus, a Neoplatonist of the fifth century AD, reports on it.[29] The passage in question has been represented in the modern literature either as claiming that Crantor visited Egypt, had conversations with priests, and saw hieroglyphs confirming the story, or, as claiming that he learned about them from other visitors to Egypt.[30] Proclus wrote:

As for the whole of this account of the Atlanteans, some say that it is unadorned history, such as Crantor, the first commentator on Plato. Crantor also says that Plato’s contemporaries used to criticize him jokingly for not being the inventor of his Republic but copying the institutions of the Egyptians. Plato took these critics seriously enough to assign to the Egyptians this story about the Athenians and Atlanteans, so as to make them say that the Athenians really once lived according to that system.

The next sentence is often translated “Crantor adds, that this is testified by the prophets of the Egyptians, who assert that these particulars [which are narrated by Plato] are written on pillars which are still preserved.” But in the original, the sentence starts not with the name Crantor but with the ambiguous He; whether this referred to Crantor or to Plato is the subject of considerable debate. Proponents of both Atlantis as a metaphorical myth and Atlantis as history have argued that the pronoun refers to Crantor.[31]

Alan Cameron argues that the pronoun should be interpreted as referring to Plato, and that, when Proclus writes that “we must bear in mind concerning this whole feat of the Athenians, that it is neither a mere myth nor unadorned history, although some take it as history and others as myth”, he is treating “Crantor’s view as mere personal opinion, nothing more; in fact he first quotes and then dismisses it as representing one of the two unacceptable extremes”.[32]

Cameron also points out that whether he refers to Plato or to Crantor, the statement does not support conclusions such as Otto Muck’s “Crantor came to Sais and saw there in the temple of Neith the column, completely covered with hieroglyphs, on which the history of Atlantis was recorded. Scholars translated it for him, and he testified that their account fully agreed with Plato’s account of Atlantis”[33] or J. V. Luce’s suggestion that Crantor sent “a special enquiry to Egypt” and that he may simply be referring to Plato’s own claims.[32]

Another passage from the commentary by Proclus on the “Timaeus” gives a description of the geography of Atlantis:

That an island of such nature and size once existed is evident from what is said by certain authors who investigated the things around the outer sea. For according to them, there were seven islands in that sea in their time, sacred to Persephone, and also three others of enormous size, one of which was sacred to Hades, another to Ammon, and another one between them to Poseidon, the extent of which was a thousand stadia [200 km]; and the inhabitants of it—they add—preserved the remembrance from their ancestors of the immeasurably large island of Atlantis which had really existed there and which for many ages had reigned over all islands in the Atlantic sea and which itself had like-wise been sacred to Poseidon. Now these things Marcellus has written in his Aethiopica.[34]

Marcellus remains unidentified.

Other ancient historians and philosophers who believed in the existence of Atlantis were Strabo and Posidonius.[35] Some have theorized that, before the sixth century BC, the “Pillars of Hercules” may have applied to mountains on either side of the Gulf of Laconia, and also may have been part of the pillar cult of the Aegean.[36][37]The mountains stood at either side of the southernmost gulf in Greece, the largest in the Peloponnese, and it opens onto the Mediterranean Sea. This would have placed Atlantis in the Mediterranean, lending credence to many details in Plato’s discussion.

The fourth-century historian Ammianus Marcellinus, relying on a lost work by Timagenes, a historian writing in the first century BC, writes that the Druids of Gaul said that part of the inhabitants of Gaul had migrated there from distant islands. Some have understood Ammianus’s testimony as a claim that at the time of Atlantis’s sinking into the sea, its inhabitants fled to western Europe; but Ammianus, in fact, says that “the Drasidae (Druids) recall that a part of the population is indigenous but others also migrated in from islands and lands beyond the Rhine” (Res Gestae 15.9), an indication that the immigrants came to Gaul from the north (Britain, the Netherlands, or Germany), not from a theorized location in the Atlantic Ocean to the south-west.[38] Instead, the Celts who dwelled along the ocean were reported to venerate twin gods, (Dioscori), who appeared to them coming from that ocean.[39]

Jewish and Christian

During the early first century, the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo wrote about the destruction of Atlantis in his On the Eternity of the World, xxvi. 141, in a longer passage allegedly citing Aristotle’s successor Theophrastus:[40]

… And the island of Atalantes [translator’s spelling; original: “Ἀτλαντίς“] which was greater than Africa and Asia, as Plato says in the Timaeus, in one day and night was overwhelmed beneath the sea in consequence of an extraordinary earthquake and inundation and suddenly disappeared, becoming sea, not indeed navigable, but full of gulfs and eddies.[41]

There is the possibility that Clement of Rome cryptically referred to Atlantis in his First Epistle of Clement, 20: 8:

… The ocean which is impassable for men, and the worlds beyond it, are directed by the same ordinances of the Master.[42]

The theologian Joseph Barber Lightfoot (Apostolic Fathers, 1885, II, p. 84) noted on this passage: “Clement may possibly be referring to some known, but hardly accessible land, lying without the pillars of Hercules. But more probably he contemplated some unknown land in the far west beyond the ocean, like the fabled Atlantis of Plato …”[43]

Other early Christian writers wrote about Atlantis, although they had mixed views on whether it once existed or was an untrustworthy myth of pagan origin.[44] Tertullianbelieved Atlantis was once real and wrote that in the Atlantic Ocean once existed “[the isle] that was equal in size to Libya or Asia”[45] referring to Plato’s geographical description of Atlantis. The early Christian apologist writer Arnobius also believed Atlantis once existed, but blamed its destruction on pagans.[46]

Cosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth century wrote of Atlantis in his Christian Topography in an attempt to prove his theory that the world was flat and surrounded by water:[47]

… In like manner the philosopher Timaeus also describes this Earth as surrounded by the Ocean, and the Ocean as surrounded by the more remote earth. For he supposes that there is to westward an island, Atlantis, lying out in the Ocean, in the direction of Gadeira (Cadiz), of an enormous magnitude, and relates that the ten kings having procured mercenaries from the nations in this island came from the earth far away, and conquered Europe and Asia, but were afterwards conquered by the Athenians, while that island itself was submerged by God under the sea. Both Plato and Aristotle praise this philosopher, and Proclus has written a commentary on him. He himself expresses views similar to our own with some modifications, transferring the scene of the events from the east to the west. Moreover he mentions those ten generations as well as that earth which lies beyond the Ocean. And in a word it is evident that all of them borrow from Moses, and publish his statements as their own.[48]

Hebrew language treatise on computational astronomy dated to AD 1378/79, alludes to the Atlantis myth in a discussion concerning the determination of zero points for the calculation of longitude:[original research?][citation needed]

Some say that they [the inhabited regions] begin at the beginning of the western ocean [the Atlantic] and beyond. For in the earliest times [literally: the first days] there was an island in the middle of the ocean. There were scholars there, who isolated themselves in [the pursuit of] philosophy. In their day, that was the [beginning for measuring] the longitude[s] of the inhabited world. Today, it has become [covered by the?] sea, and it is ten degrees into the sea; and they reckon the beginning of longitude from the beginning of the western sea.[49]

A map showing the supposed extent of the Atlantean Empire, from Ignatius L. Donnelly‘s Atlantis: the Antediluvian World, 1882 [50]

Modern

Aside from Plato’s original account, modern interpretations regarding Atlantis are an amalgamation of diverse, speculative movements that began in the sixteenth century,[51] when scholars began to identify Atlantis with the New WorldFrancisco Lopez de Gomara was the first to state that Plato was referring to America, as did Francis Bacon and Alexander von Humboldt; Janus Joannes Bircherod said in 1663 orbe novo non novo (“the New World is not new”). Athanasius Kircher accepted Plato’s account as literally true, describing Atlantis as a small continent in the Atlantic Ocean.[19]

Contemporary perceptions of Atlantis share roots with Mayanism, which can be traced to the beginning of the Modern Age, when European imaginations were fueled by their initial encounters with the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[52] From this era sprang apocalyptic and utopian visions that would inspire many subsequent generations of theorists.[52]

Most of these interpretations are considered pseudohistorypseudoscience, or pseudoarchaeology, as they have presented their works as academic or scientific, but lack the standards or criteria.

The Flemish cartographer and geographer Abraham Ortelius is believed to have been the first person to imagine that the continents were joined together before driftingto their present positions. In the 1596 edition of his Thesaurus Geographicus he wrote: “Unless it be a fable, the island of Gadir or Gades [Cadiz] will be the remaining part of the island of Atlantis or America, which was not sunk (as Plato reports in the Timaeus) so much as torn away from Europe and Africa by earthquakes and flood… The traces of the ruptures are shown by the projections of Europe and Africa and the indentations of America in the parts of the coasts of these three said lands that face each other to anyone who, using a map of the world, carefully considered them. So that anyone may say with Strabo in Book 2, that what Plato says of the island of Atlantis on the authority of Solon is not a figment.”[53]

Atlantis pseudohistory

Early influential literature

The term “utopia” (from “no place”) was coined by Sir Thomas More in his sixteenth-century work of fiction Utopia.[54] Inspired by Plato‘s Atlantis and travelers’ accounts of the Americas, More described an imaginary land set in the New World.[55] His idealistic vision established a connection between the Americas and utopian societies, a theme that Bacon discussed in The New Atlantis (c. 1623).[52] A character in the narrative gives a history of Atlantis that is similar to Plato’s and places Atlantis in America. People had begun believing that the Mayan and Aztec ruins could possibly be the remnants of Atlantis.[54]

Impact of Mayanism

Much speculation began as to the origins of the Maya, which led to a variety of narratives and publications that tried to rationalize the discoveries within the context of the Bible and that had undertones of racism in their connections between the Old and New World. The Europeans believed the indigenous people to be inferior and incapable of building that which was now in ruins and by sharing a common history, they insinuate that another race must have been responsible.

In the middle and late nineteenth century, several renowned Mesoamerican scholars, starting with Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, and including Edward Herbert Thompson and Augustus Le Plongeon, formally proposed that Atlantis was somehow related to Mayan and Aztec culture.

The French scholar Brasseur de Bourbourg traveled extensively through Mesoamerica in the mid-1800s, and was renowned for his translations of Mayan texts, most notably the sacred book Popol Vuh, as well as a comprehensive history of the region. Soon after these publications, however, Brasseur de Bourbourg lost his academic credibility, due to his claim that the Maya peoples had descended from the Toltecs, people he believed were the surviving population of the racially superior civilization of Atlantis.[56] His work combined with the skillful, romantic illustrations of Jean Frederic Waldeck, which visually alluded to Egypt and other aspects of the Old World, created an authoritative fantasy that excited much interest in the connections between worlds.

Inspired by Brasseur de Bourbourg’s diffusion theories, the pseudoarchaeologist Augustus Le Plongeon traveled to Mesoamerica and performed some of the first excavations of many famous Mayan ruins. Le Plongeon invented narratives, such as the kingdom of Mu saga, which romantically drew connections to him, his wife Alice, and Egyptian deities Osiris and Isis, as well as to Heinrich Schliemann, who had just discovered the ancient city of Troy from Homer‘s epic poetry (that had been described as merely mythical).[57] He also believed that he had found connections between the Greek and Mayan languages, which produced a narrative of the destruction of Atlantis.[58]

Ignatius Donnelly

The 1882 publication of Atlantis: the Antediluvian World by Ignatius L. Donnelly stimulated much popular interest in Atlantis. He was greatly inspired by early works in Mayanism, and like them, attempted to establish that all known ancient civilizations were descended from Atlantis, which he saw as a technologically sophisticated, more advanced culture. Donnelly drew parallels between creation stories in the Old and New Worlds, attributing the connections to Atlantis, where he believed the Biblical Garden of Eden existed.[59] As implied by the title of his book, he also believed that Atlantis was destroyed by the Great Flood mentioned in the Bible.

Donnelly is credited as the “father of the nineteenth century Atlantis revival” and is the reason the myth endures today.[60] He unintentionally promoted an alternative method of inquiry to history and science, and the idea that myths contain hidden information that opens them to “ingenious” interpretation by people who believe they have new or special insight.[61]

Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists

Map of Atlantis according to William Scott-Elliott (The Story of Atlantis, Russian edition, 1910)

The Russian mystic Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and her partner Henry Steel Olcott founded their Theosophical Society in the 1870s with a philosophy that combined western romanticism and easternreligious concepts. Blavatsky and her followers in this group are often cited as the founders of New Ageand other spiritual movements.[54]

Blavatsky took up Donnelly‘s interpretations when she wrote The Secret Doctrine (1888), which she claimed was originally dictated in Atlantis. She maintained that the Atlanteans were cultural heroes (contrary to Plato, who describes them mainly as a military threat). She believed in a form of racial evolution (as opposed to primate evolution), in which the Atlanteans were the fourth “Root Race“, succeeded by the fifth and most superior “ race” (the modern human race).[54] The Theosophistsbelieved that the civilization of Atlantis reached its peak between 1,000,000 and 900,000 years ago, but destroyed itself through internal warfare brought about by the dangerous use of psychic and supernaturalpowers of the inhabitants. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy and Waldorf Schools, along with other well known Theosophists, such as Annie Besant, also wrote of cultural evolution in much the same vein.

Some subsequent occultists have followed Blavatsky, at least to the point of tracing the lineage of occult practices back to Atlantis. Among the most famous is Dion Fortune in her Esoteric Orders and Their Work.[62]

and occultism

Blavatsky was also inspired by the work of the eighteenth-century astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly, who had “Orientalized” the Atlantis myth in his mythical continent of Hyperborea, a reference to Greek myths featuring a Northern European region of the same name, home to a giant, godlike race.[63] Dan Edelstein claims that her reshaping of this theory in The Secret Doctrine provided the Nazis with a mythological precedent and a pretext for their ideological platform and their subsequent genocide.[63] However, Blavatsky’s writings mention that the Atlantean were in fact olive-skinned peoples with Mongoloid traits who were the ancestors of modern Native AmericansMongolians and Malayans.[64][65][66]

Julius Evola‘s writing in 1934 also suggested that the Atlanteans were HyperboreanNordic supermen who originated at the North Pole (see Thule).[citation needed]Similarly, Alfred Rosenberg (in The Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1930) spoke of a “Nordic-Atlantean” or “-Nordic” master race.[citation needed] This ideas may contradict the believes of several Esoteric and Theosophic groups that, on the contrary, thought that the Atlanteans were non-Causian brown skinned peoples. Also some Esoteric groups including the Theosophic Society does not consider Atlantean society to have been superior or Utopian, on the contrary, they consider a lower stage on evolution.[67]

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce was a man from humble upbringings in Kentucky who allegedly possessed psychic abilities, which were performed from a trance-like state. In addition to allegedly healing the sick from this state, he also spoke frequently on the topic of Atlantis. In his “life readings,” he purportedly revealed that many of his subjects were reincarnations of people who had lived on Atlantis. By tapping into their collective consciousness, the “Akashic Records” (a term borrowed from Theosophy),[68] he declared that he was able to give detailed descriptions of the lost continent.[69] He also asserted that Atlantis would “rise” again in the 1960s (sparking much popularity of the myth in that decade) and that there is a “Hall of Records” beneath the Egyptian Sphinx, which holds the historical texts of Atlantis.

Recent times

As continental drift became widely accepted during the 1960s, and the increased understanding of plate tectonics demonstrated the impossibility of a lost continent in the geologically recent past,[70] most “Lost Continent” theories of Atlantis began to wane in popularity.

Plato scholar Julia AnnasRegents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, had this to say on the matter:

The continuing industry of discovering Atlantis illustrates the dangers of reading Plato. For he is clearly using what has become a standard device of fiction—stressing the historicity of an event (and the discovery of hitherto unknown authorities) as an indication that what follows is fiction. The idea is that we should use the story to examine our ideas of government and power. We have missed the point if instead of thinking about these issues we go off exploring the sea bed. The continuing misunderstanding of Plato as historian here enables us to see why his distrust of imaginative writing is sometimes justified.[71]

One of the proposed explanations for the historical context of the Atlantis story is a warning of Plato to his contemporary fourth-century fellow-citizens against their striving for naval power.[17]

Kenneth Feder points out that Critias’s story in the Timaeus provides a major clue. In the dialogue, Critias says, referring to Socrates’ hypothetical society:

And when you were speaking yesterday about your city and citizens, the tale which I have just been repeating to you came into my mind, and I remarked with astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence, you agreed in almost every particular with the narrative of Solon. …[72]

Feder quotes A. E. Taylor, who wrote, “We could not be told much more plainly that the whole narrative of Solon’s conversation with the priests and his intention of writing the poem about Atlantis are an invention of Plato’s fancy.”[73]

Location hypotheses

Since Donnelly’s day, there have been dozens of locations proposed for Atlantis, to the point where the name has become a generic concept, divorced from the specifics of Plato’s account. This is reflected in the fact that many proposed sites are not within the Atlantic at all. Few today are scholarly or archaeological hypotheses, while others have been made by psychic (e.g., Edgar Cayce) or other pseudoscientific means. (The Atlantis researchers Jacques Collina-Girard and Georgeos Díaz-Montexano, for instance, each claim the other’s hypothesis is pseudoscience.)[74] Many of the proposed sites share some of the characteristics of the Atlantis story (water, catastrophic end, relevant time period), but none has been demonstrated to be a true historical Atlantis.

Satellite image of the islands of Santorini. From the Minoan eruption event, and the 1964 discovery of Akrotiri on the island, this location is one of many sites purported to have been the location of Atlantis.

In or near the Mediterranean Sea

Most of the historically proposed locations are in or near the Mediterranean Sea: islands such as Sardinia,[75][76][77] CreteSantorini (Thera), Sicily, Cyprus, and Malta; land-based cities or states such as Troy,[78] Tartessos, and Tantalis (in the province of ManisaTurkey);[79] IsraelSinai or Canaan;[citation needed] and northwestern Africa.[80]

The Thera eruption, dated to the seventeenth or sixteenth century BC, caused a large tsunami that some experts hypothesize devastated the Minoan civilization on the nearby island of Crete, further leading some to believe that this may have been the catastrophe that inspired the story.[81][82] In the area of the Black Sea the following locations have been proposed: Bosporus and Ancomah (a legendary place near Trabzon).

Others have noted that, before the sixth century BC, the mountains on either side of the Gulf of Laconia were called the “Pillars of Hercules”,[36][37] and they could be the geographical location being described in ancient reports upon which Plato was basing his story. The mountains stood at either side of the southernmost gulf in Greece, the largest in the Peloponnese, and that gulf opens onto the Mediterranean Sea. If from the beginning of discussions, misinterpretation of Gibraltar as the location rather than being at the Gulf of Laconia, would lend itself to many erroneous concepts regarding the location of Atlantis. Plato may have not been aware of the difference. The Laconian pillars open to the south toward Crete and beyond which is Egypt. The Thera eruption and the Late Bronze Age collapse affected that area and might have been the devastation to which the sources used by Plato referred. Significant events such as these would have been likely material for tales passed from one generation to another for almost a thousand years.

In the Atlantic Ocean

The location of Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean has a certain appeal given the closely related names. Popular culture often places Atlantis there, perpetuating the original Platonic setting as they understand it. The Canary Islands and Madeira Islands have been identified as a possible location,[83][84][85][86] west of the Straits of Gibraltar, but in relative proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. Detailed studies of their geomorphology and geology have demonstrated, however, that they have been steadily uplifted, without any significant periods of subsidence, over the last four million years, by geologic processes such as erosional unloading, gravitational unloading, lithospheric flexure induced by adjacent islands, and volcanic underplating.[87][88] Various islands or island groups in the Atlantic were also identified as possible locations, notably the Azores.[85][86] Similarly, cores of sediment covering the ocean bottom surrounding the Azores and other evidence demonstrate that it has been an undersea plateau for millions of years.[89][90] The submerged island of Spartel near the Strait of Gibraltar has also been suggested.[91]

In Europe

Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland (c. 8,000 BC), which provided a land bridge between Great Britain and continental Europe

Several hypotheses place the sunken island in northern Europe, including Doggerland in the North Sea, and Sweden (by Olof Rudbeck in Atland, 1672–1702). Doggerland, as well as Viking Bergen Island, is thought to have been flooded by a megatsunami following the Storegga slide of c. 6100 BC. Some have proposed the Celtic Shelf as a possible location, and that there is a link to Ireland.[92]

In 2011, a team, working on a documentary for the National Geographic Channel,[93] led by Professor Richard Freund from the University of Hartford, claimed to have found possible evidence of Atlantis in southwestern Andalusia.[94] The team identified its possible location within the marshlands of the Doñana National Park, in the area that once was the Lacus Ligustinus,[95] between the HuelvaCádiz, and Seville provinces, and they speculated that Atlantis had been destroyed by a tsunami,[96] extrapolating results from a previous study by Spanish researchers, published four years earlier.[97]

Spanish scientists have dismissed Freund’s speculations, claiming that he sensationalised their work. The anthropologist Juan Villarías-Robles, who works with the Spanish National Research Council, said, “Richard Freund was a newcomer to our project and appeared to be involved in his own very controversial issue concerning King Solomon’s search for ivory and gold in Tartessos, the well documented settlement in the Doñana area established in the first millennium BC”, and described Freund’s claims as “fanciful”.[98]

A similar theory had previously been put forward by a German researcher, Rainer W. Kühne, that is based only on satellite imagery and places Atlantis in the Marismas de Hinojos, north of the city of Cádiz.[91] Before that, the historian Adolf Schulten had stated in the 1920s that Plato had used Tartessos as the basis for his Atlantis myth.[99]

Other locations

Several writers have speculated that Antarctica is the site of Atlantis,[100][101] while others have proposed Caribbean locations such as the alleged Cuban sunken cityoff the Guanahacabibes peninsula in Cuba,[102] the Bahamas, and the Bermuda Triangle. Areas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans have also been proposed including Indonesia (i.e. Sundaland).[103] The stories of a lost continent off the coast of India, named “Kumari Kandam,” have inspired some to draw parallels to Atlantis.[104]

Literary interpretations

Ancient versions

A fragment of Atlantis by Hellanicus of

In order to give his account of Atlantis verisimilitude, Plato mentions that the story was heard by Solon in Egypt, and transmitted over several generations through the family of Dropides, until it reached Critias, a dialogue speaker in Timaeus and Critias.[105] Solon had supposedly tried to adapt the Atlantis  tradition into a poem (that if published, was to be greater than the works of Hesiod and Homer). While it was never completed, Solon passed on the story to Dropides. Modern classicists deny the existence of Solon’s Atlantis poem and the story as an tradition.[106] Instead, Plato is thought to be the sole inventor or fabricator. Hellanicus of used the word “Atlantis” as the title for a poem published before Plato,[107] a fragment of which may be Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 11, 1359.[108] This work only describes the Atlantides (the daughters of Atlas), however, and has no relation to Plato’s Atlantis account.

In the new era, the third century AD Neoplatonist Zoticus wrote an epic poem based on Plato’s account of Atlantis.[109] Plato’s work may already have inspired parodic imitation, however. Writing only a few decades after the Timaeus and Critias, the historian Theopompus of Chios wrote of a land beyond the ocean known as Meropis. This description was included in Book 8 of his Philippica, which contains a dialogue between Silenus and King Midas. Silenus describes the Meropids, a race of men who grow to twice normal size, and inhabit two cities on the island of Meropis: Eusebes (Εὐσεβής, “Pious-town”) and Machimos (Μάχιμος, “Fighting-town”). He also reports that an army of ten million soldiers crossed the ocean to conquer Hyperborea, but abandoned this proposal when they realized that the Hyperboreans were the luckiest people on earth. Heinz-Günther Nesselrath has argued that these and other details of Silenus’ story are meant as imitation and exaggeration of the Atlantis story, by parody, for the purpose of exposing Plato’s ideas to ridicule.[110]

Utopias and dystopias

The creation of Utopian and dystopian fictions was renewed after the Renaissance, most notably in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis(1627), the description of an ideal society that he located off the western coast of America. Thomas Heyrick (1649-1694) followed him with “The New Atlantis” (1687), a satirical poem in three parts. His new continent of uncertain location, perhaps even a floating island either in the sea or the sky, serves as background for his exposure of what he described in a second edition as “A True Character of Popery and Jesuitism”.[111]

The title of The New Atalantis by Delarivier Manley (1709), distinguished from the two others by the single letter, is an equally dystopian work but set this time on a fictional Mediterranean island.[112] In it violence and exploitation is made a metaphor for the hypocritical behaviour of politicians in their dealings with the general public.[113] In Manley’s case, the target of satire was the Whig Party, while in David Maclean Parry’s The Scarlet Empire (1906) it is Socialism as practised in foundered Atlantis.[114] It was followed in Russia by Velemir Khlebnikov‘s poem The Fall of Atlantis (Gibel’ Atlantidy, 1912), which is set in a future rationalist dystopia that has discovered the secret of immortality and is so dedicated to progress that it has lost touch with the past. When the high priest of this ideology is tempted by a girl into an act of irrationality, he murders her and precipitates a second flood, above which her severed head floats vengefully among the stars.[115]

A slightly later work, The Ancient of Atlantis (Boston, 1915) by Albert Armstrong Manship, expounds the Atlantean wisdom that is to redeem the earth. Its three parts consist of a verse narrative of the life and training of an Atlantean wise one, followed by his Utopian moral teachings and then a psychic drama set in modern times in which a reincarnated child embodying the lost wisdom is reborn on earth.[116]

In Hispanic eyes, Atlantis had a more intimate interpretation. The land had been a colonial power which, although it had brought civilization to ancient Europe, had also enslaved its peoples. Its tyrannical fall from grace had contributed to the fate that had overtaken it, but now its disappearance had unbalanced the world. This was the point of view of Jacint Verdaguer’s vast mythological epic L’Atlantida (1877). After the sinking of the former continent, Hercules travels east across the Atlantic to found the city of Barcelona and then departs westward again to the Hesperides. The story is told by a hermit to a shipwrecked mariner, who is inspired to follow in his tracks and so “call the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old”. This mariner, of course, was Christopher Columbus.[117]

Verdaguer’s poem was written in Catalan, but was widely translated in both Europe and Hispano-America.[118] One response was the similarly entitled Argentinian Atlantida of Olegario Victor Andrade (1881), which sees in “Enchanted Atlantis that Plato foresaw, a golden promise to the fruitful race” of Latins.[119] The bad example of the colonising world remains, however. Jose Juan Tablada characterises its threat in his “De Atlántida” (1894) through the beguiling picture of the lost world populated by the underwater creatures of Classical myth, among whom is the Siren of its final stanza with

her eye on the keel of the wandering vessel
that in passing deflowers the sea’s smooth mirror,
launching into the night her amorous warbling
and the dulcet lullaby of her treacherous voice![120]

There is a similar ambivalence in Janus Djurhuus’ six-stanza “Atlantis” (1917), where a celebration of the Faroese linguistic revival grants it an ancient pedigree by linking Greek to Norse legend. In the poem a female figure rising from the sea against a background of Classical palaces is recognised as a priestess of Atlantis. The poet recalls “that the Faroes lie there in the north Atlantic Ocean/ where before lay the poet-dreamt lands,” but also that in Norse belief, such a figure only appears to those about to drown.[121]

A land lost in the distance

A Faroe Islands postage stamp honoring Janus Djurhuus‘ “Atlantis”

The fact that Atlantis is a lost land has made of it a metaphor for something no longer attainable. For the American poet Edith Willis Linn Forbes (1865-1945), “The Lost Atlantis” stands for idealisation of the past; the present moment can only be treasured once that is realised.[122] Ella Wheeler Wilcox finds the location of “The Lost Land” (1910) in one’s carefree youthful past.[123] Similarly, for the Irish poet Eavan Boland in “Atlantis, a lost sonnet” (2007), the idea was defined when “the old fable-makers searched hard for a word/ to convey that what is gone is gone forever”.[124]

For some male poets too, the idea of Atlantis is constructed from what cannot be obtained. Charles Bewley in his Newdigate Prize poem (1910) thinks it grows from dissatisfaction with one’s condition,

And, because life is partly sweet
And ever girt about with pain,
We take the sweetness, and are fain
To set it free from grief’s alloy

in a dream of Atlantis.[125] Similarly for the Australian Gary Catalano in a 1982 prose poem, it is “a vision that sank under the weight of its own perfection”.[126] W. H. Auden, however, suggests a way out of such frustration through the metaphor of journeying toward Atlantis in his poem of 1941.[127] While travelling, he advises the one setting out, you will meet with many definitions of the goal in view, only realising at the end that the way has all the time led inward.[128]

Epic narratives

A few late nineteenth century verse narratives complement the genre fiction that was beginning to be written at the same period. Two of them report the disaster that overtook the continent as related by long-lived survivors. In Frederick Tennyson’s Atlantis (1888) an ancient Greek mariner sails west and discovers an inhabited island, which is all that remains of the former kingdom. He learns of its end and views the shattered remnant of its former glory, from which a few had escaped to set up the Mediterranean civilisations.[129] In the second, Mona, Queen of Lost Atlantis: An Idyllic Re-embodiment of Long Forgotten History (Los Angeles CA 1925) by James Logue Dryden (1840-1925), the story is told in a series of visions. A Seer is taken to Mona’s burial chamber in the ruins of Atlantis, where she revives and describes the catastrophe. There follows a survey of the lost civilisations of Hyperborea and Lemuria as well as Atlantis, accompanied by much spiritualist lore.[130]

William Walton Hoskins (1856-1919) admits to the readers of his Atlantis and other poems (Cleveland OH, 1881), that he is only 24. Its melodramatic plot concerns the poisoning of the descendant of god-born kings. The usurping poisoner is poisoned in his turn, following which the continent is swallowed in the waves.[131] Asian gods people the landscape of The Lost Island (Ottawa 1889) by Edward Taylor Fletcher (1816–97). An angel foresees impending catastrophe and that the people will be allowed to escape if their semi-divine rulers will sacrifice themselves.[132] A final example, Edward N. Beecher’s The Lost Atlantis or The Great Deluge of All (Cleveland OH, 1898) is just a doggerel vehicle for its author’s opinions: that the continent was the location of the Garden of Eden; that Darwin’s theory of evolution is correct, as are Donnelly’s views.[133]

Atlantis was to become a theme in Russia following the 1890s, taken up in unfinished poems by Valery Bryusov and Konstantin Balmont, as well as in a drama by the schoolgirl Larisa Reisner.[134] One other long narrative poem was published in New York by George V. Golokhvastoff. His 250-page The Fall of Atlantis (1938) records how a high priest, distressed by the prevailing degeneracy of the ruling classes, seeks to create an androgynous being from royal twins as a means to overcome this polarity. When he is unable to control the forces unleashed by his occult ceremony, the continent is destroyed.[135]

Artistic representations

Leon Bakst’s vision of cosmic catastrophe

Music

The Spanish composer Manuel de Falla worked on a dramatic cantata based on Verdaguer’s L’Atlántida, during the last 20 years of his life.[136] The name has been affixed to symphonies by Janis Ivanovs (1941),[137] Richard Nanes,[138] and Vaclav Buzek (2009).[139] There was also the symphonic celebration of Alan Hovhaness: “Fanfare for the New Atlantis” (Op. 281, 1975).[140]

The Bohemian-American composer and arranger Vincent Frank Safranek wrote Atlantis (The Lost Continent) Suite in Four Parts; I. Nocturne and Morning Hymn of Praise, II. A Court Function, III. ″I Love Thee″ (The Prince and Aana), IV. The Destruction of Atlantis, for military (concert) band in 1913.[141]

The 1968 song Atlantis by Scottish singer Donovan described Atlantis and its hypothetical fate. It charted in several countries, reaching #1 in Switzerland in 1969 and as high as #7 in the United States.

Painting and sculpture

Paintings of the submersion of Atlantis are comparatively rare. In the seventeenth century there was François de Nomé’s “The Fall of Atlantis”, which shows a tidal wave surging toward a Baroque city frontage.[142] The style of architecture apart, it is not very different from Nicholas Roerich’s “The Last of Atlantis” of 1928.[143]

The most dramatic depiction of the catastrophe was Leon Bakst’s “Ancient Terror” (Terror Antiquus, 1908), although it does not name Atlantis directly. It is a mountain-top view of a rocky bay breached by the sea, which is washing inland about the tall structures of an ancient city. A streak of lightning crosses the upper half of the painting, while below it rises the impassive figure of an enigmatic goddess who holds a blue dove between her . Vyacheslav Ivanov identified the subject as Atlantis in a public lecture on the painting given in 1909, the year it was first exhibited, and he has been followed by other commentators in the years since.[144]

Sculptures referencing Atlantis have often been stylized single figures. One of the earliest was Einar Jónsson’s The King of Atlantis (1919–1922), now in the garden of his museum in Reykjavik. It represents a single figure, clad in a belted skirt and wearing a large triangular helmet, who sits on an ornate throne supported between two young bulls.[145] The walking female entitled Atlantis (1946) by Ivan Meštrović[146] was from a series inspired by ancient Greek figures [147] with the symbolical meaning of unjustified suffering.[148]

In the case of the Brussels fountain feature known as The Man of Atlantis (2003) by the Belgian sculptor Luk van Soom [nl], the 4-metre tall figure wearing a diving suit steps from a plinth into the spray.[149] It looks light-hearted but the artist’s comment on it makes a serious point: “Because habitable land will be scarce, it is no longer improbable that we will return to the water in the long term. As a result, a portion of the population will mutate into fish-like creatures. Global warming and rising water levels are practical problems for the world in general and here in the Netherlands in particular”.[150]

Robert Smithson’s Hypothetical Continent (Map of broken clear glass, Atlantis) was first created as a photographical project on Loveladies Island NJ in 1969,[151] and then recreated as a gallery installation of broken glass.[152] On this he commented that he liked “landscapes that suggest prehistory”, and this is borne out by the original conceptual drawing of the work that includes an inset map of the continent sited off the coast of Africa and at the straits into the Mediterranean.[153]

See also

Underwater geography:

General:

Notes