on 17 May 2011
This book is a history of cosmology centered on Newton's contributions - culminating in the publication of the Principia Mathematica and the subsequent proof of his universal theory of gravitation, after Newton's death in 1727.
As with all Thames & Hudson New Horizons books, it is economically written & very well illustrated. Illustrations make a big difference to understanding and memorizing most technical subjects.
Newton's life (1642 - 1727) is described only very briefly; his `miraculous year' at home during the plague of 1665; his appointments to a Cambridge chair & to the Royal Society, the publication of his studies of light, his competition with Hooke and the efforts to which Halley went to persuade him to publish the Principia.
The key discoveries & theories that preceded Newton's work on gravitation are described: including those of Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes, Cassini, Huygens, Hooke and Roemer. Surprisingly there is no description of a major contribution from Galileo - beyond his assertion that heavenly bodies are not perfect and cannot be placed above scientific reasoning.
Three demonstrations of Newton's theories are also presented. That is proof of the flattening of the earth at the poles, by the French in 1735, predicting the re-appearance of Halley's Comet in 1759 and the existence of Neptune and the description of its orbit in 1846.
This is another excellent introduction to its subject from the New Horizons series: 5 star again!