7 June 2015

Pattern, process and change

In creating [a mathematics of flowing quantities and rates of change] Newton embraced a paradox. He believed in a discrete universe. He believed in atoms, small but ultimately indivisible - not infinitesimal. Yet he built a mathematical frameworks that was not discrete but continuous, based on a geometry of lines and smoothly changing curves... 
Here at Woolsthorpe the night was strewn with stars, the moon cast its light through the apple trees, and the day's sun and shadows carved their familiar pathways across the wall.  Newton understood now: the projection of curves onto flat planes; the angles in three dimensions, changing slightly each day. He saw an orderly landscape. Its inhabitants were not static objects; they were patterns, process and change.
Isaac Newton by James Gleick (2004)

Newton's early papers here.

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