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The Principia (Great Minds) Paperback – June 1, 1995


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The Principia (Great Minds) + On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres (Great Minds Series) + Relativity: The Special and General Theory
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Product Details

  • Series: Great Minds
  • Paperback: 465 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879759801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879759803
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Sir Isaac Newton Stephen Hawking’s ability to make science understandable and compelling to a lay audience was established with the publication of his first book, A Brief History of Time, which has sold nearly 10 million copies in 40 languages. Hawking has authored or participated in the creation of numerous other popular science books, including On the Shoulders of Giants and The Illustrated On the Shoulders of Giants.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By C. Morales on November 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book not for the purpose of learning Classical Mechanics from it, but for the scientific curiosity of learning how the great Isaac Newton presented his revolutionary scientific ideas to the world. Of course, it is difficult to read. This is an old translation of a book written in Latin more than 300 years ago!
This book is a jewel. Just like the original works of Einstein, Maxwell, Heisenberg, Schroedinger and all those giants. The person buying this book should not expect to find a clear didactic textbook when originally it was not written for the layman, but for the expert scientific community of its time. Buy this book, sit back, scan through it, and enjoy a true piece of history.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Marc Stein on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I can hardly believe Hawking lent his credibility to this edition. Although his motivation of getting people to read classics is great, this edition barely contains any Hawking commentary, is riddled with errors and omissions, and fell apart after just a couple of months of use. Buy the Green Lion or the big Blue edition instead!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carl Gilbert on December 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing book so far. Translation is great from what I can gather. Newton is a genius of course. I would recommend this book and the Great Minds Series. After reading farther into the book, reading other reviewers Opinions, and speaking with many professors regarding Principia, I felt that I should amend my review.

The reason why this book is SO difficult to read has little to nothing to do with the translation. Mr. Newton was apparently a bit of a jerk in his day and he wrote Principia not only in an obscure dialect of Latin, but also in such a fashion that the wording is heavy handed and quite often extremely confounding. He did this with intention that only the smartest and upper tier of brains could understand him.

I still recommend this book, however, to the potential purchaser - This book is not easy to read, get ready to be amazed!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Steven H. Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) was an English physicist, mathematician, whose Principia (published in 1687) founded classical mechanics, and described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion.

"I have in this treatise cultivated mathematics so far as it regards philosophy.... (G)eometry is founded in mechanical practice, and is nothing but that part of universal mechanics which accurately proposes and demonstrates the art of measuring."

"The propositions here demonstrated are adapted to the true constitution of the Earth.... For gravity ... decreases in its progress from the superficies of the Earth; upwards in a duplicate ratio of the distances from the centre of the earth; downwards in a simple ratio of the same."

At the beginning of Book III, he states, "In the preceding Books I have laid down the principles of philosophy, principles not philosophical, but mathematical; such, to wit, as we may build our reasonings upon in philosophical inquiries.... It remains that, from the same principles, I now demonstrate the frame of the System of the World."

He concludes the book on the note, "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being ... This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.... The Supreme God is a being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.... It is the dominion of a spiritual being which constitutes a God ... God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ScienceAndMath on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Newton's Principia is most likely the greatest scientific treatise ever written but a modern translation from the original Latin is needed. This book is written in cryptic language and is useful only for historical value in my opinion. Viva physics!
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By PR on December 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's great to have a copy of Principia in my sweaty little fists. You don't have to read the whole thing. Just dabble, and get a sense of Newton unfiltered through textbook authorities dully distilling the original pioneering into old hat. Also use Google Books to sample the works of the other greats.

BTW, "On the Shoulders of Giants" is just the name of a series with introductions by Stephen Hawking. The book is still purely Newton's Principia. It's in English the original Latin. There have been several translations to English. A weakness of this edition is that it does not make explicit which of the first three editions of Principia or which of the later translations to English this translation is based on.
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