Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg has written that "all that has happened since 1687 is a gloss on the "Principia."" Now you too can appreciate the significance of this stellar work, regarded by many as the greatest scientific contribution of all time. Despite its dazzling reputation, Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica," or simply the "Principia," remains a mystery for many people. Few of even the most intellectually curious readers, including professional scientists and mathematicians, have actually looked in the "Principia "or appreciate its contents. Mathematician Pask seeks to remedy this deficit in this accessible guided tour through Newton's masterpiece. Using the final edition of the "Principia," Pask clearly demonstrates how it sets out Newton's (and now our) approach to science; how the framework of classical mechanics is established; how terrestrial phenomena like the tides and projectile motion are explained; and how we can understand the dynamics of the solar system and the paths of comets. He also includes scene-setting chapters about Newton himself and scientific developments in his time, as well as chapters about the reception and influence of the "Principia "up to the present day.

Review

"I believe the two most important works in our journey to understand how the natural world works are Darwin's "Origins" and Newton's "Principia." But while Darwin can be read by the nonspecialist, a contemporary reader will usually struggle with Newton's unfamiliar mathematical notation. Pask's splendid book is greatly to be welcomed, making the power and elegance of the "Principia" accessible to the general reader. It is particularly good at clarifying the Scientific Revolution's combination of thoughtful experiments and analytic thinking, showing mathematics as nothing more--but also nothing less--than a way of thinking clearly."

--Professor Robert M. May, Baron of Oxford, OM, AC, Fellow of the Royal Society

"An insightful and expansive look into Isaac Newton's complex and illuminating 1687 publication on classical mechanics... Breaking the "Principia "down into easily digestible portions and suffusing his narrative with modern insights, Pask reveals the genius that built modern physics."

"--Publishers Weekly"

"I believe the two most important works in our journey to understand how the natural world works are Darwin's "Origins" and Newton's "Principia." But while Darwin can be read by the nonspecialist, a contemporary reader will usually struggle with Newton's unfamiliar mathematical notation. Pask's splendid book is greatly to be welcomed, making the power and elegance of the "Principia" accessible to the general reader. It is particularly good at clarifying the Scientific Revolution's combination of thoughtful experiments and analytic thinking, showing mathematics as nothing more--but also nothing less--than a way of thinking clearly."

--Professor Robert M. May, Baron of Oxford, OM, AC, Fellow of the Royal Society

Colin Pask (Canberra, Australia) is the author of "Math for the Frightened: Facing Scary Symbols and Everything Else That Freaks You Out about Mathematics." He is an emeritus professor of mathematics and a visiting fellow and professor in the School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia.