Restoration Science and the Royal Society: Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton


Sir Issac Newton is largely considered to be one of the founding fathers of the scientific method and a key pillar in the scientific community.

RaD, CU Boulder Libraries

Opticks by Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) is well known as one of the founding fathers of modern scientific theory. Throughout his life, he created many different discoveries and theories that were part of the greater Scientific Revolution.  Perhaps one of the most prominent discoveries was his theory of the laws of motion that remain a key part of any scientific study to this day. In his Opticks (Newton, 1704), Newton looked at how light interact with the world around him, using much of the knowledge and study done in Hooke's Micrographia (Hooke 1665).

With the revolution in microscopes, Newton sought to expand upon the work from his predecessors to better understand this world. Newton himself has contributed greatly to the future of science and study itself.  His Opticks (Newton 1704) opened the doors for many future studies on light and refraction and paved the way for others to follow. 

Throughout his work in Opticks (Newton 1704), Newton used mathematics and equations to prove his work, relying not just on the explanation with words, but also the clear nature of numbers to show his discoveries. Reading and understanding the concepts within the work, we begin to see how these equations come together and support his thesis. There are several extended pages like this throughout his work that lend credit to the overall work.  I will always struggle to understand math in such a complicated way, but this change in proving the facts and explaining the discovery was very essential to the scientific method and indeed the emergence of science to explain the world around us.

The equations and terminology can be confusing for the average reader but the definitions and propositions offered throughout the book gave clarity without intimate knowledge of the material itself. Newton and the Royal Society as a whole understood that their works were meant to be a resource for the future and to provide insight to the greater educated population.

- Daniel Clemenson