Between Galileo and Newton

Christiaan Huygens has been long overshadowed by Isaac Newton. But he is the better example of a modern scientist. 

Christiaan Huygens,  by Caspar Netscher, 1671.
Christiaan Huygens, by Caspar Netscher, 1671. Kunstmuseum Den Haag/Wikimedia/Creative Commons.

By 1689 Isaac Newton’s groundbreaking treatise on the laws of motion and gravitation, Principia Mathematica, had been published for more than a year and was the focus of high praise, even by those who understood not a word of it. He was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and recently re-elected as a Member of Parliament for the university. But there was one further appointment that he coveted: the provostship of King’s College. This required a petition to the king himself.

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