Students Use Original Isaac Newton Works

Sir Isaac Newton

Babson students in several classes—including Astronomy, Electronics, Ethics and Capitalism, and First-Year Seminar—will have an exciting academic opportunity this month. They will be using original documents from Sir Isaac Newton in their studies, taking advantage of the limited pop-up exhibition that will take place on the Babson campus as part of the Centennial Celebration.

Notable works will include:

  • The Principia, annotated by Newton.
  • Newton’s writing on the Temple of Solomon.
  • Newton’s correspondence to scientist Robert Hooke.

These and other items are part of the College’s Grace K. Babson Collection of Newtonia, the third-largest in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. It is currently on loan to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, where it is actively used by scholars.

James Hoopes, professor of ethics in business, is bringing his capitalism class because “Adam Smith’s law of supply and demand was an attempt to accomplish in economics (then a branch of moral philosophy) what Newton had accomplished with the law of gravity. Just as the invisible hand of gravity held the planets in their orbits, the invisible hand of the market moved commerce,” he says.

Charles Winrich, assistant professor of math and science, is bringing his astronomy class “because some of Newton’s tests were astronomical in nature. For example, Newton used an analysis of the moon’s orbit to show that the same force—gravity—was responsible for keeping the planets in orbit around the sun, and terrestrial gravitational effects. I believe The Principia is one of the books that will be part of the exhibit, and that is the book where he showed that to be the case,” he adds.

Huntington Library curators Daniel Lewis and Joel A. Klein will bring more than a dozen items for display in the Sorenson Black Box Theater from September 20 to 22, and will deliver a public lecture, Forces Of Genius: From Nature’s Laws to Entrepreneurship & Enterprise, at 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 22, in the Sorenson Center for the Arts.

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