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By Jhn Fauvel et al

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In my view, his optical work is even more complex than the Principia (1687), which is generally taken to be sophisticated, opaque, and inaccessible. The main reasons for this are simple. First, Newton wanted not only to contribute to the science of optics, but also to advocate a particular view of science. Although the latter objective was present in the Principia too, the methodological reconstruction of optics and colour theory was conceived earlier than its counterpart in astronomy and mechanics.

This was a subject which already had a long history, and which had more recently been investigated by Viete, the leading French mathematician of the sixteenth century. Newton made a major breakthrough by introducing what is now known as the Newton-Raphson method for the numerical solution of such equations. Newton continued his researches into fluxions and infinite series. One of his main contributions was De methodts fluxtonum et serterum tnfinttorum (1671), which treated such important problems as finding the fluxional derivative of an equation— that is, the term-by-term rates of change of the elements of the equation.

Turnbull, The math­ ematical discoveries of Newton, Blackie and Son, London, 1945: and Chapter 12 of John Fauvel and Jeremy Gray, The history of mathematics: a reader, Macmillan, London, 1987. Newton's optics: the changing spectrum of science CASPER HAKFOORT CHAPTER FOUR In 1699, the French philosopher and theologian Nicolas Malebranche gave a lecture to the assembled members of the Paris Academie des Sciences on the theory of light and colours. The theory he expounded was a medium or wave theory.

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