Montana State University

April 19 seminar still on, focusing on Newton's diagrams

April 19, 2010 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- A joint physics and philosophy colloquium on the role of diagrams in Newton's Principia, the work in which Newton described universal gravitation and proposed his three laws of motion, is still on at 4:10 p.m. Monday, April 19, in Room 113 of Roberts Hall at Montana State University.

Philip Catton, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Canterbury, will present a talk on "Newton's Diagrams." By the time he wrote Principia, Newton had been using calculus for years, but surprisingly enough, it makes no appearance in Principia. Instead, Newton demonstrated his conclusions using diagrams. It has long been thought that the Newton used diagrams for purely pedagogical reasons. Catton will challenge this interpretation. He will discuss why diagrams were indispensable to Newton's reasoning and why that should be appreciated in order to understand Newton's thinking as a whole.

The lecture is sponsored by MSU Department of History and Philosophy and the Department of Physics.

For more information, contact Jim Allard at 994-5210 or

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or