London, John Martyn, 1672-1673. 4to (22.0 x 16.1 cm). This is a collection of all original issues forming the true first edition of volume 7 of the "Philosophical Transactions" (issues 81-91), including a general title page for the entire volume. These issues comprise pages 3,999-5,172, plus an index and four foldout plates. Many figures in the text. Contemporary leather panels with a fine, old style leather spine with five raised, gilt-ornamented bands, rich gilt compartments with floral pattern and two burgundy morocco labels with gilt title. Mottled edges.
One of the most important volumes of the 'Philosophical Transactions'. Isaac Newton published his famous theory of light and colours in volume 6 (no. 80) of the Transactions. It was a publication that shook the scientific world of that day, and is still considered one of the cornerstones of science. Naturally, a lively debate followed - staged partly in the "Philosophical Transactions" during the following year. His theory, which included the notion that white light was in fact a combination of colours, also explained chromatic abberation. Consequently, Newton turned his attention to telescopes and devised a new type of telescope that combined refraction with reflection. It is the first paper in this volume, which is the collection of original issues of the Transactions from 1672 and 1673, and thus a fascinating window to the period just after the publication of Newton's theory of light. Apart from Newton's answers to his critics on his new theory of light, and some letters of his critics (the Jesuit Ignatius Pardies in particular used the Transactions to publish his critiques on Newton's theory), this volume contains several additional papers by Newton and others on Newton's telescope. This type of telescope, with a cleverly constructed short tube, is still very popular among amateur astronomists. "Newton built his reflecting telescope because he suspected it could prove his theory that white light is composed of a spectrum of colours. Colour distortion (chromatic aberration) was the primary fault of refracting telescopes of Newton's day, and there were many theories as to what caused it. During the mid-1660s with his work on the theory of colour, Newton concluded this defect was caused by the lens of the refracting telescope behaving the same as prisms he was experimenting with, breaking white light into a rainbow of colours around bright astronomical objects. If this was true, then chromatic aberration could be eliminated by building a telescope which did not use a lens - a reflecting telescope." (Wikipedia). Furthermore there are important contributions on, for example, astronomy and science by Flamsteed, Cassini, Hevelius, Boyle, Huygens and others, and natural history by Lister, and others. This volume contains the following contributions by Newton (which deviates from those listed in Gray, p. 45, who records one paper less): "An accompt of a new catadioptrical telescope, invented by Mr. Newton", pp. 4004-4009, with a folding plate; "An extract of a letter, received very lately (March 19th) from the inventor of this new telescope", pp. 4009-4010; "Mr. Newton's letter to the publisher of March 26, 1672, containing some more suggestions about his new telescope" pp. 4032-4035; "An extract of another letter of the same to the publisher, dated 30 March. 1672. by way of answer to some objections, made by an ingenious French philosopher to the new reflecting telescope", pp. 4034-4034; "Mr. Isaac Newton's considerations upon part of a letter of monsieur de Bercé printed in the eighth French Memoire, containing the catadrioptrical telescope, pretended to be improv'd and refined by M. Cassegrain", pp. 4056-4059; "Some experiments propos'd in relation to Mr. Newtons Theory of light, printed in Numb. 80; together with the observations made thereupon by the author of that theory; communicated in a letter of his from Cambridge, April 13. 1672.", pp. 4059-4062; "Mr Newtons letter of April 13. 1672. ft. v. written to the publisher, being an answer to the foregoing letter of P. Pardies", pp. 4091-4093 (Pardies' letter, regarding Newton's theory of light, is on pp. 4087-4090); "A serie's of Quere's propounded by Mr. Isaac Newton, to be determin'd by experiments, positively and directly concluding his new Theory of light and colours; and here recommended to the industry of the lovers of experimental philosophy, as they were generously imparted to the publisher in a letter of the said Mr. Newtons of July 8. 1672.", pp. 4004 [recte 5004]-5007; "Mr. Newton's answer to the foregoing letter (by P. Pardies, regarding Newtons theory of light, on pp. 5012-5013), pp. 5014-5018; "Mr. Newtons answer to some considerations upon his doctrine of Light and colors, which doctrine was printed in Numb. 80 of the tracts.", pp. 5084-5103 (20 pp. in total). Spine and endpapers renewed in period style hardly distinguishable from an original period binding. A fine copy. Gray, 231 (2-10).