Revealed: The fish that nearly sank Isaac Newton

Apr 19, 2012
A seventeenth century engraving of a flying fish from John Ray and Francis Willughby's 1686 book Historia Piscium. The 300-year-old drawing of a flying fish that nearly scuttled Isaac Newton's world-changing opus on modern physics will be showcased in the Royal Society's online picture library.

A 300-year-old drawing of a flying fish that nearly scuttled Isaac Newton's world-changing opus on modern physics will be showcased in the Royal Society's online picture library, launched Thursday.

The engraving was first published in 1686 in a lavishly-illustrated book "A History of Fishes," by John Ray and Francis Willughby, the prestigious British academy of sciences said.

The work was ground-breaking but printing it nearly bankrupted the institution.

"This meant that the society was unable to meet its promise to support the publication of Isaac Newton's masterpiece," the Royal Society said.

Newton's work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy") sets down the principles of the laws of motion and gravity.

Fortunately, fellow scientist Edmund Halley, then a clerk at the Royal Society, saw the promise in Newton's work and raised the funds for it to be published in 1687.

The online library will sport more than 1,000 images from the archives of the world's oldest .

Explore further: Explainer: How to solve a jewel heist (and why it takes so long)

Related Stories

Cambridge University puts Newton's papers online

Dec 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a project that has long been overdue, Cambridge University, thanks to a hefty gift from the Polonsky Foundation (supporter of education and arts) and a grant from Britain’s Joint ...

Britain's Royal Society wins Spanish prize

May 18, 2011

Britain's centuries-old science institute The Royal Society was Wednesday awarded Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize for Communications and Humanities for promoting "knowledge for the benefit of ...

Recommended for you

Top UK scientists warn against EU exit

May 22, 2015

A group of leading British scientists including Nobel-winning geneticist Paul Nurse warned leaving the European Union could threaten research funding, in a letter published in The Times newspaper on Friday.

Publisher pushback puts open access in peril

May 21, 2015

Delegates at the The Higher Education Technology Agenda (THETA) conference on the Gold Coast last week heard from futurist Bryan Alexander about four possible scenarios for the future of knowledge. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

bottomlesssoul
5 / 5 (1) Apr 23, 2012
Wow, what an awesome anecdote. I knew Halley was an important figure in history but this is pivotal. Thank you Mr. Halley!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.