Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I was going to record talking... the foil was put on; I then shouted 'Mary had a little lamb',... and the machine reproduced it perfectly.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index P > Category: Principia

Principia Quotes (13 quotes)

Nec fas est proprius mortali attingere divos.
It is not lawful for mortals to approach divinity nearer than this.
Last hexameter of the Latin verses, 'In viri praestantissimi isaaci newtoni opus hocce mathematico-physicum saeculi gentisque nostrae decus egregium' by which Edmond Halley expressed his admiration of Isaac Newton’s work. These were prefixed to Newton’s Principia, for which Halley supervised the publication. Translation as given in Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: The Science of Freedom (1996), 131.
Science quotes on:  |  Approach (108)  |  Divinity (23)  |  Lawful (7)  |  Mortal (54)  |  Nearer (45)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)

For some months the astronomer Halley and other friends of Newton had been discussing the problem in the following precise form: what is the path of a body attracted by a force directed toward a fixed point, the force varying in intensity as the inverse of the distance? Newton answered instantly, “An ellipse.” “How do you know?” he was asked. “Why, I have calculated it.” Thus originated the imperishable Principia, which Newton later wrote out for Halley. It contained a complete treatise on motion.
In The Handmaiden of the Sciences (1937), 37.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (366)  |  Ask (411)  |  Astronomer (93)  |  Body (537)  |  Calculate (54)  |  Complete (204)  |  Direct (225)  |  Discuss (22)  |  Distance (161)  |  Do (1908)  |  Ellipse (8)  |  Force (487)  |  Form (959)  |  Friend (168)  |  Edmond Halley (9)  |  Instantly (19)  |  Intensity (34)  |  Know (1518)  |  Month (88)  |  Motion (310)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Other (2236)  |  Path (144)  |  Point (580)  |  Precise (68)  |  Problem (676)  |  Treatise (44)  |  Why (491)

I esteem his understanding and subtlety highly, but I consider that they have been put to ill use in the greater part of his work, where the author studies things of little use or when he builds on the improbable principle of attraction.
Writing about Newton's Principia. Huygens had some time earlier indicated he did not believe the theory of universal gravitation, saying it 'appears to me absurd.'
Quoted in Archana Srinivasan, Great Inventors (2007), 37.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Absurd (59)  |  Attraction (56)  |  Author (167)  |  Build (204)  |  Consider (416)  |  Gravitation (70)  |  Greater (288)  |  Little (707)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Principle (507)  |  Subtlety (19)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Time (1877)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Universal (189)  |  Use (766)  |  Work (1351)  |  Writing (189)

I have presented principles of philosophy that are not, however, philosophical but strictly mathematical—that is, those on which the study of philosophy can be based. These principles are the laws and conditions of motions and of forces, which especially relate to philosophy.
... It still remains for us to exhibit system of the world from these same principles.
Science quotes on:  |  Condition (356)  |  Force (487)  |  Law (894)  |  Motion (310)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Present (619)  |  Principle (507)  |  Study (653)

In 1684 Dr Halley came to visit him at Cambridge, after they had been some time together, the Dr asked him what he thought the Curve would be that would be described by the Planets supposing the force of attraction towards the Sun to be reciprocal to the square of their distance from it. Sr Isaac replied immediately that it would be an Ellipsis, the Doctor struck with joy & amazement asked him how he knew it, why saith he I have calculated it, whereupon Dr Halley asked him for his calculation without any farther delay. Sr Isaac looked among his papers but could not find it, but he promised him to renew it, & then to send it him.
[Recollecting Newton's account of the meeting after which Halley prompted Newton to write The Principia. When asking Newton this question, Halley was aware, without revealing it to Newton that Robert Hooke had made this hypothesis of plantary motion a decade earlier.]
Quoted in Richard Westfall, Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (1980), 403.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Account (192)  |  Amazement (15)  |  Ask (411)  |  Asking (73)  |  Attraction (56)  |  Calculation (127)  |  Curve (49)  |  Decade (59)  |  Delay (20)  |  Distance (161)  |  Doctor (187)  |  Ellipse (8)  |  Farther (51)  |  Find (998)  |  Force (487)  |  Gravity (132)  |  Edmond Halley (9)  |  Robert Hooke (20)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Immediately (114)  |  Joy (107)  |  Look (582)  |  Motion (310)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Orbit (81)  |  Paper (182)  |  Planet (356)  |  Promise (67)  |  Prompt (14)  |  Question (621)  |  Reciprocal (7)  |  Renew (19)  |  Search (162)  |  Square (70)  |  Sun (385)  |  Thought (953)  |  Time (1877)  |  Together (387)  |  Why (491)  |  Write (230)

In science its main worth is temporary, as a stepping-stone to something beyond. Even the Principia, as Newton with characteristic modesty entitled his great work, is truly but the beginning of a natural philosophy, and no more an ultimate work, than Watt’s steam-engine, or Arkwright's spinning-machine.
Co-author with his brother Augustus William Hare Guesses At Truth, By Two Brothers: Second Edition: With Large Additions (1848), Second Series, 46. (The volume is introduced as “more than three fourths new.” This quote is identified as by Julius; Augustus had died in 1833.)
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Sir Richard Arkwright (3)  |  Beginning (305)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Characteristic (148)  |  Engine (98)  |  Great (1574)  |  Machine (257)  |  Modesty (17)  |  More (2559)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Philosophy (52)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Science (3879)  |  Something (719)  |  Spinning (18)  |  Spinning Machine (2)  |  Steam (80)  |  Steam Engine (45)  |  Stepping Stone (2)  |  Stone (162)  |  Temporary (23)  |  Title (18)  |  Truly (116)  |  Ultimate (144)  |  James Watt (11)  |  Work (1351)  |  Worth (169)

It is good to recall that three centuries ago, around the year 1660, two of the greatest monuments of modern history were erected, one in the West and one in the East; St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and the Taj Mahal in Agra. Between them, the two symbolize, perhaps better than words can describe, the comparative level of architectural technology, the comparative level of craftsmanship and the comparative level of affluence and sophistication the two cultures had attained at that epoch of history. But about the same time there was also created—and this time only in the West—a third monument, a monument still greater in its eventual import for humanity. This was Newton’s Principia, published in 1687. Newton's work had no counterpart in the India of the Mughuls.
'Ideals and Realities' (1975). Reprinted in Ideals and Realities (1984), 48.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Affluence (3)  |  Architecture (48)  |  Attain (125)  |  Better (486)  |  Cathedral (27)  |  Counterpart (9)  |  Craftsmanship (4)  |  Culture (143)  |  Describe (128)  |  Description (84)  |  Epoch (45)  |  Good (889)  |  Greater (288)  |  Greatest (328)  |  History (673)  |  Humanity (169)  |  London (12)  |  Modern (385)  |  Monument (45)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Sophistication (9)  |  Still (613)  |  Symbol (93)  |  Symbolize (8)  |  Technology (257)  |  Time (1877)  |  Two (937)  |  Word (619)  |  Work (1351)  |  Year (933)

Nobody since Newton has been able to use geometrical methods to the same extent for the like purposes; and as we read the Principia we feel as when we are in an ancient armoury where the weapons are of gigantic size; and as we look at them we marvel what manner of man he was who could use as a weapon what we can scarcely lift as a burthen.
From Speech delivered at the Dejeuner, after the Inauguration of the statue of Isaac Newton at Grantham. Collected in Edmund Fillingham King, A biographical sketch of Sir Isaac Newton (1858), 105.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (189)  |  Armory (3)  |  Burden (27)  |  Extent (139)  |  Feel (367)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Gigantic (40)  |  Lift (55)  |  Look (582)  |  Man (2251)  |  Manner (58)  |  Marvel (35)  |  Method (505)  |  Methods (204)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Nobody (104)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Read (287)  |  Scarcely (74)  |  Size (60)  |  Use (766)  |  Weapon (92)  |  Weapons (58)

The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land, to add something to the extent and the solidity of our possessions. And even a cursory glance at the history of the biological sciences during the last quarter of a century is sufficient to justify the assertion, that the most potent instrument for the extension of the realm of natural knowledge which has come into men's hands, since the publication of Newton's ‘Principia’, is Darwin's ‘Origin of Species.’
From concluding remarks to a chapter by Thomas Huxley, 'On the Reception of the ‘Origin of Species’', the last chapter in Charles Darwin and Francis Darwin (ed.), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1887), Vol. 1, 557.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Biological (137)  |  Business (149)  |  Century (310)  |  Extension (59)  |  Extent (139)  |  Finite (59)  |  Generation (242)  |  Glance (34)  |  History (673)  |  Infinite (231)  |  Instrument (144)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Known (454)  |  Last (426)  |  Little (707)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Natural (796)  |  Ocean (202)  |  Origin (239)  |  Possession (65)  |  Potent (12)  |  Publication (101)  |  Realm (85)  |  Science (3879)  |  Something (719)  |  Species (401)  |  Stand (274)  |  Sufficient (128)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Unknown (182)

The name of Sir Isaac Newton has by general consent been placed at the head of those great men who have been the ornaments of their species. … The philosopher [Laplace], indeed, to whom posterity will probably assign a place next to Newton, has characterized the Principia as pre-eminent above all the productions of human intellect.
In Life of Sir Isaac Newton (1831), 1, 2.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Assign (13)  |  Characterize (20)  |  Consent (14)  |  General (511)  |  Great (1574)  |  Head (81)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Intellect (31)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (62)  |  Mathematicians and Anecdotes (141)  |  Name (333)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Next (236)  |  Ornament (20)  |  Philosopher (258)  |  Place (177)  |  Posterity (29)  |  Preeminent (5)  |  Probably (49)  |  Production (183)  |  Species (401)  |  Will (2355)

The other book you may have heard of and perhaps read, but it is not one perusal which will enable any man to appreciate it. I have read it through five or six times, each time with increasing admiration. It will live as long as the ‘Principia’ of Newton. It shows that nature is, as I before remarked to you, a study that yields to none in grandeur and immensity. The cycles of astronomy or even the periods of geology will alone enable us to appreciate the vast depths of time we have to contemplate in the endeavour to understand the slow growth of life upon the earth. The most intricate effects of the law of gravitation, the mutual disturbances of all the bodies of the solar system, are simplicity itself compared with the intricate relations and complicated struggle which have determined what forms of life shall exist and in what proportions. Mr. Darwin has given the world a new science, and his name should, in my opinion, stand above that of every philosopher of ancient or modem times. The force of admiration can no further go!!!
Letter to George Silk (1 Sep 1860), in My Life (1905), Vol. I, 372-373.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (59)  |  All (4108)  |  Alone (311)  |  Ancient (189)  |  Appreciate (63)  |  Astronomy (229)  |  Book (392)  |  Complicated (115)  |  Cycle (40)  |  Charles Darwin (303)  |  Depth (94)  |  Disturbance (31)  |  Earth (996)  |  Effect (393)  |  Enable (119)  |  Endeavour (63)  |  Exist (443)  |  Force (487)  |  Form (959)  |  Geology (220)  |  Grandeur (31)  |  Gravitation (70)  |  Growth (187)  |  Immensity (30)  |  Intricate (29)  |  Law (894)  |  Law Of Gravitation (22)  |  Life (1795)  |  Live (628)  |  Long (790)  |  Man (2251)  |  Most (1731)  |  Mutual (52)  |  Name (333)  |  Nature (1926)  |  New (1216)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Other (2236)  |  Period (198)  |  Perusal (2)  |  Philosopher (258)  |  Proportion (136)  |  Read (287)  |  Science (3879)  |  Show (346)  |  Simplicity (167)  |  Slow (101)  |  Solar (8)  |  Solar System (77)  |  Stand (274)  |  Struggle (105)  |  Study (653)  |  System (537)  |  Through (849)  |  Time (1877)  |  Understand (606)  |  Vast (177)  |  Will (2355)  |  World (1774)  |  Yield (81)

The thirteen books of Euclid must have been a tremendous advance, probably even greater than that contained in the Principia of Newton.
In Article 'Eucleides', in Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biology and Mythology (1902).
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (280)  |  Book (392)  |  Contain (68)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Great (1574)  |  Greater (288)  |  Mathematicians and Anecdotes (141)  |  Must (1526)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Probably (49)  |  Tremendous (26)

Two extreme views have always been held as to the use of mathematics. To some, mathematics is only measuring and calculating instruments, and their interest ceases as soon as discussions arise which cannot benefit those who use the instruments for the purposes of application in mechanics, astronomy, physics, statistics, and other sciences. At the other extreme we have those who are animated exclusively by the love of pure science. To them pure mathematics, with the theory of numbers at the head, is the only real and genuine science, and the applications have only an interest in so far as they contain or suggest problems in pure mathematics.
Of the two greatest mathematicians of modern tunes, Newton and Gauss, the former can be considered as a representative of the first, the latter of the second class; neither of them was exclusively so, and Newton’s inventions in the science of pure mathematics were probably equal to Gauss’s work in applied mathematics. Newton’s reluctance to publish the method of fluxions invented and used by him may perhaps be attributed to the fact that he was not satisfied with the logical foundations of the Calculus; and Gauss is known to have abandoned his electro-dynamic speculations, as he could not find a satisfying physical basis. …
Newton’s greatest work, the Principia, laid the foundation of mathematical physics; Gauss’s greatest work, the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, that of higher arithmetic as distinguished from algebra. Both works, written in the synthetic style of the ancients, are difficult, if not deterrent, in their form, neither of them leading the reader by easy steps to the results. It took twenty or more years before either of these works received due recognition; neither found favour at once before that great tribunal of mathematical thought, the Paris Academy of Sciences. …
The country of Newton is still pre-eminent for its culture of mathematical physics, that of Gauss for the most abstract work in mathematics.
In History of European Thought in the Nineteenth Century (1903), 630.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Abandon (68)  |  Abstract (124)  |  Academy (35)  |  Academy Of Sciences (4)  |  Algebra (113)  |  Ancient (189)  |  Animated (5)  |  Application (242)  |  Applied (177)  |  Applied Mathematics (15)  |  Arise (158)  |  Arithmetic (136)  |  Astronomy (229)  |  Attribute (61)  |  Basis (173)  |  Benefit (114)  |  Both (493)  |  Calculate (54)  |  Calculus (65)  |  Cease (79)  |  Class (164)  |  Consider (416)  |  Contain (68)  |  Country (251)  |  Culture (143)  |  Deterrent (2)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Discussion (72)  |  Distinguish (160)  |  Distinguished (83)  |  Due (141)  |  Easy (204)  |  Equal (83)  |  Exclusively (10)  |  Extreme (75)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Far (154)  |  Favor (63)  |  Find (998)  |  First (1283)  |  Fluxion (7)  |  Fluxions (2)  |  Form (959)  |  Former (137)  |  Foundation (171)  |  Carl Friedrich Gauss (77)  |  Genuine (52)  |  Great (1574)  |  Greatest (328)  |  Head (81)  |  High (362)  |  Hold (95)  |  Instrument (144)  |  Interest (386)  |  Invent (51)  |  Invention (369)  |  Know (1518)  |  Known (454)  |  Laid (7)  |  Latter (21)  |  Lead (384)  |  Logical (55)  |  Love (309)  |  Mathematical Physics (11)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Measure (232)  |  Mechanic (119)  |  Mechanics (131)  |  Method (505)  |  Modern (385)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Number (699)  |  Other (2236)  |  Paris (11)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physics (533)  |  Preeminent (5)  |  Probably (49)  |  Problem (676)  |  Publish (36)  |  Pure (291)  |  Pure Mathematics (67)  |  Pure Science (27)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Reader (40)  |  Real (149)  |  Receive (114)  |  Recognition (88)  |  Reluctance (5)  |  Representative (14)  |  Result (677)  |  Satisfied (23)  |  Satisfy (27)  |  Science (3879)  |  Second (62)  |  Snake (26)  |  Soon (186)  |  Speculation (126)  |  Statistics (155)  |  Step (231)  |  Still (613)  |  Style (23)  |  Suggest (34)  |  Synthetic (26)  |  Theory (970)  |  Theory Of Numbers (7)  |  Thought (953)  |  Tribunal (2)  |  Tune (19)  |  Two (937)  |  Use (766)  |  View (488)  |  Work (1351)  |  Write (230)  |  Year (933)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.