- The Oxford Handbook of The History of Physics
- List of Contributors
- Was There a Scientific Revolution?
- Galileo’s Mechanics of Natural Motion and Projectiles
- Cartesian Physics
- Physics and the Instrument-Makers, 1550–1700
- Newton’s <i>Principia</i>
- Newton’s Optics
- Experimentation in the Physical Sciences of the Seventeenth Century
- Mathematics and the New Sciences
- The Physics of Imponderable Fluids
- Physics on Show: Entertainment, Demonstration, and Research in the Long Eighteenth Century
- Instruments and Instrument-Makers, 1700–1850
- Mechanics in the Eighteenth Century
- Laplace and the Physics of Short-Range Forces
- Electricity and Magnetism to Volta
- Optics in the Nineteenth Century
- Thermal Physics and Thermodynamics
- Engineering Energy: Constructing a New Physics for Victorian Britain
- Electromagnetism and Field Physics
- Electrodynamics from Thomson and Maxwell to Hertz
- From Workshop to Factory: The Evolution of the Instrument-Making Industry, 1850–1930
- Physics Textbooks and Textbook Physics in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
- Physics and Medicine
- Physics and Metrology
- Rethinking ‘Classical Physics’
- The Emergence of Statistical Mechanics
- Three and a Half Principles: The Origins of Modern Relativity Theory
- Quantum Physics
- The Silicon Tide: Relations between Things Epistemic and Things of Function in the Semiconductor World
- Physics and Cosmology
- Name Index
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
This article examines Isaac Newton’s contributions to the development of optics. Newton’s Opticks: Or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light (1704) dominated the science of optics for more than a century. His theory of colour and the compound nature of sunlight was central to modern optics. This article first considers Newton’s reflecting telescope before discussing the fundamental elements of his theory of the nature of white light and colour. It then evaluates the reception toward Newton’s ‘new theory about light and colour’ and his refinement of the theory, along with his corpuscular optics, with emphasis on his explanation regarding refraction and dispersion. It also explores Newton’s ideas about the colours of natural bodies and of thick plates, his theory of fits, and the delayed publication of the Opticks. Finally, it reflects on Robert Hooke’s influence on Newton’s concept of diffraction.
Alan E. Shapiro is a professor at The University of Minnesota's Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.
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