Safely resting in the archives of our Library lives a copy of the text that rewrote the rule book on Earth and space Principia (Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica), recently featured on ABC’s 7.30 report.
First published in 1687, the text is one of the most important books on natural philosophy in which Newton establishes the modern science of dynamics and outlines his three laws of motion.
The University of Sydney copy is one of only four known copies that were sent by Newton and his assistant Roger Cotes to other mathematicians in order to eliminate any errors in a second edition. The other copies are all located in the Northern Hemisphere – two in the University of Cambridge Library and one in the Library of Trinity College.
The report uncovers how the Library came to have this important copy and the significance of the rare text.