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The text will be reproduced as accurately as possible from the edition available to me, a reprint of Andrew Motte's 1729 English translation of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, or The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (a.k.a. The Principia), from the original Latin. This reprint is from the Great Minds Series, The Principia, by Isaac Newton, et. al., by Prometheus Books, obtained from This is a reprint of the 1848 New York edition.

Because most readers will be interested in the book for its historical value, and not as any kind of introduction to the science of mechanics, I will not attempt to revise or modernize any of the text, notations, or archaic language. Explanatory notes will be inserted as hyperlinks at key locations instead. Diagrams will be redrawn, relabeled, and made as large as necessary for clarity. The text will refer back and forth to its own propositions, and links will be provided where appropriate. The text also refers to other documents, and links will be made wherever on-line versions of these documents exist.

The links will be color coded as follows:

Although Newton's foundation of mechanics was dealt a serious blow early in this century with the advent of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and the quantum theory initiated by Max Planck and developed by Einstein, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Dirac and others, the conceptual framework first written down in The Principia is widely in use today. It remains valid in domains where:

c = 299,792,458 m/s;

h = 0.00000000000000000000000000000000066260755 J·s.

In fact, Newton's laws of motion and gravitation were so accurate that they were used to discover the planet Neptune from deviations in the orbit of Uranus. NASA engineers at Cape Kennedy used Newton's laws to put men on the moon in 1969, without having to make the slightest correction to Newtonian theory. Only discrepancies in the orbit of Mercury hinted that Newton's theory might stand in need of correction.

First and second year college physics and engineering students, and also high school students, will find familiar material in The Principia. Students of mathematics will recognize hints of an early form of calculus, and also many problems in Euclidean geometry which Newton explains fully.

Isaac Newton's Principia 1687, Translated by Andrew Motte 1729

Last edited 04/07/98