Last year the world of science celebrated the 300th anniversary of Isaac Newton’s Principia. Trinity College, Cambridge (UK) celebrated the event with a Newton Tercentenary Conference last summer. One result of the conference is the book 300 Years of Gravitation (Cambridge University Press, 1988), edited by Stephen Hawking and Werner Israel. The book contains 16 review papers by leading researchers in cosmology, relativity and particle physics. In his pref- ace to the book, excerpted below, Hawking discusses the principal issues Newton raised in his work and some of the effects the Principia has had on science and society.

The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton, first published in Latin in 1687, is probably the most important single work ever published in the physical sciences. Its significance is equalled in the biological sciences only by The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. The original impulse which caused Newton to write...

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