A Serie's of Quere's propounded by Mr. Isaac Newton … positively concluding his new Theory of Light and Colours
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- Notes on the Electronic Edition
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.
IN the mean while give me leave, Sir, to insinuate, that I cannot think it effectual for determining truth, to examin the several waies by which PhŠnomena may be explained, unless where there can be a perfect enumeration of all those waies. You know, the proper Method for inquiring after the properties of things is, to deduce them from Experiments. And I told you, that the Theory, which I propounded, was evinced to me, not by inferring 'tis thus because not otherwise, that is, not by deducing it only from a confutation of contrary suppositions, but by deriving it from Experiments concluding positively and directly. The way therefore to examin it is, by considering, whether the Experiments which I propound do prove those parts of the Theory, to which they are applyed; or by prosecuting other Experiments which the Theory may suggest for its examination. And this I would have done in a due Method; the Laws of Refraction being throughly inquired into and determined before the nature of Colours be taken into consideration. It may not be amiss to proceed according to the Series of these QuŠries; which I could wish were determined by the Event of proper Experiments; declared by those that may have the curiosity to examin them.
1. Whether rays, that are alike incident on the same Medium, have unequal refractions; and how great are the inequalities of their refractions at any incidence?
2. What is the Law according to which each ray is more or less refracted; whether it be that the same ray is ever refracted according to the same ratio of the sines of incidence and refraction; and divers rays, according to divers ratio's; or that the refraction of each ray is greater or less without any certain rule? That is, whether each ray have a certain degree of refrangibility according to which its refraction is performed; or is refracted without that regularity?<5005>
3. Whether rays, which are endued with particular degrees of refrangibility, when they are by any means separated, have particular colours constantly belonging to them; viz. the least refrangible, Scarlet; the most refrangible, deep Violet; the middle, Sea-green; and others, other colours? And on the contrary?
4. Whether the colour of any sort of rays apart may be changed by refraction?
8. Whether there be any other colours produced by refraction than such, as ought to result from the colours belonging to the diversly refrangible rays by their being separated or mixed by that refraction?
To determine by Experiments these and such like QuŠre's which involve the propounded Theory, seems the most proper and direct way to a conclusion. And therefore I could with all objections were suspended, taken from Hypotheses or any other heads than these two; Of shewing the insufficiency of Experiments to determine these QuŠre's or prove any other parts of my Theory, by assigning the flaws and defects in my conclusions drawn from them; Or of producing other Experiments which directly contradict me, if any such may seem to occur. For if the Experiments, which I urge, be defective, it cannot be difficult to show the defects; but if valid, then by proving the Theory they must render all Objections invalid.
So far this accurate Proposer; whose Method appearing to be most genuine and proper to the purpose it is propounded for, and deserving therefore to be considered and put to trial by Philosophers, abroad as well as at home; the Publisher, to invite and gratify Forraigners, was willing to deliver the above recited Extract of Mr. Newtons Letter in the language also of the Learned, as followeth;<5006>
Excerptum ex Isaaci Newtoni Epistola, nuper ad Editorem script, quÔ ipse genuinam suggerit Methodum, doctrinam suam de Luc & Coloribus, antehac propositam, evincendi, subjectÔ certorum QuŠsitorum, debitis Experimentis solvendorum, serie.
LIceat mihi hac occasione tibi significare, nequaquam censere me, efficacem eam esse determinandŠ veritatis rationem, quÔ diversi examinantur modi, quibus PhŠnomena explicari possunt, nisi ubi perfecta fuerit omnium istorum modorum Enumeratio. Nosti, genuinam proprietates rerum investigandi Methodum esse, quÔ illŠ ab Experimentis deducuntur. Ac jam antŔ tibi dixeram; Theoriam Ó me propositam evictam mihi fuisse, non quiem inferendo rem ita se habere quia haud se habeat aliter, i. e. non eam deducendo duntaxat Ó contrariarum suppositionum confutatione; sed ipsam ab Experimentis, positivŔ & directŔ concludentibus, derivando. Vera itaque ratio eam examinandi hŠc erit, si consideremus scilicet, num Experimenta Ó me proposita illas Theoria partes, quibus accommodantur, reverÓ probent; vel si alia prosequamur Experimenta, qua ab ipsa Theroria ad examinandam eam suggerantur. Atque hoc ipsum Methodo genuinÔ fieri velim; pervestigatis primum ac determinatis Legibus Refractionis, priusquam Colorum natura disquiratur. PrŠter rem itaque haud fore crediderim, disquisitionem hanc ex sequentium QuŠsitorum serie instituere; quŠ quidem ut Ó solertibus sagacibusque naturŠ Mystis, pronunciatis Experimentorum Eventibus, dirimantur, in votis quÓm maximŔ habeo. Ea sunt;
Secund˛, QuŠnam ea Lex sit, juxta quam radius quilibet magis min˙sve refringitur? sitnŔ, qu˛d idem radius semper refringatur secund¨m eandem rationem Sinuum IncidentiŠ & Refractionis; diversi antem radii, secund¨m rationes diversus? An ver˛, qu˛d cujuslibet radii refractio major minˇrve sit absque ulla regula certa? Hoc est, Utrum unusquisque radius certum habeat gradum Refrangibilitatis, juxta quem fiat ipsius refractio; an ver˛ refringatur sine ista regularitate?
Terti˛, Num radii, certis gradibus refrangibilitatis prŠditi, quando, quodedum cumque modo, secernuntur, certos obtineant colores ipsis proprios; puta radii minimŔ omnium refrangibiles, Coccineum; maxime refrangibiles, saturum Violaceum; intermedii, sub-Viridem; alii, alios? Et Ŕ contrÓ.
Quart˛, Num color cujusvis generis radiorum seorsim existentium mutari possint Refractione?<5007>
Octav˛, Denturne ulli alii colores Refractione producti prŠter eos, quos oriri oportet Ó Coloribus, ad radios diversimodŔ refrangibiles pertinentibus, dum illi refractione istÔ secernuntur vel miscentur?
Per Experimenta deteminare hŠc similiave QuŠsita, quŠ propositam Theoriam involvunt, maximŔ genuina directaque videtur ad Conclusionem via: ProindÚque omnes velim Objectiones suspendi, quŠ ab Hypothesibus desumuntur ullisve Fontibus aliis, quÓm his duobus; quibus nempe vel ostendatur Experimentorum ad determinanda hŠc ζητήματα probandasve ullas alias TheoriŠ meŠ partes insufficientia, hallucinationes defectusque in Conclusionibus meis inde deductis indigitando; vel alia producantur Experimenta, Ú diametro mihi opposita, si quŠ talia occurrere videantur. Si enim Experimenta, quŠ ß me urgentur, laborant defectibus, difficile haud fuerit eos ostendere; si verˇ valida fuerint, eo ipso dum Theoriam meam asserunt probantque omnes Objectiones convellunt.