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Isaac Newton's Crucial Experiment

What did Isaac Newton do in his chambers at Trinity College, Cambridge? Like Newton's dutiful assistant who remembered how for weeks on end "ye fire in ye Elaboratory scarcely went out," we can appreciate the immense labor that he put into his experiments, but often end up little better informed than that assistant. "What his Aim might be," he reported, "I was not able to penetrate into."

Some elements of Newton's laboratory trials can be brought back to life. Microcosmos invites you to explore the experimental trials that permeated British natural philosophy in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries.

To participate and learn more about Isaac Newton's glass prism experiment, please click the image below.

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This demonstration was designed by Peter Plavchan for the
Caltech undergraduate course, SES/H 158, March 1999;
it borrows heavily on Simon Schaffer's "Glass Works," in Schaffer
et al, The Uses of Experiment

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