1740 · Lausannae & Geneva,
"Newton's contributions to the science of optics – his discovery of the unequal refractions of rays of different color, his theory of color, and his investigations of 'Newton's rings,' to mention only a few of the most noteworthy – place him among the premier contributors to that science. … Today we recognize that his work on optics offers unique rewards in its exciting, innovative conjunction of physical theory, experimental investigation, and mathematics, and in the revealing glimpse that it provides of a crucial period in the evolution of experimental science." – Alan E. Shapiro, The Optical Papers of Isaac Newton: Volume 1, (1984), p. xi.
Jean-Louis Daudét (1695-1756), who made the frontispiece and title vignette, was an engraver and print publisher active in Lyon, inherited business from his father Etienne Joseph Daudet. He flourished from 1722 till his death in 1756. Thereafter the business continued by his widow in association with his son-in-law Louis Martin Roch Joubert until 1773.
"Newton famously declared that it is not the business of science to make hypotheses. However, it's well to remember that this position was formulated in the midst of a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, who had criticized Newton's writings on optics when they were first communicated to the Royal Society in the early 1670's. The essence of Newton's thesis was that white light is composed of a mixture of light of different elementary colors, ranging across the visible spectrum, which he had demonstrated by decomposing white light into its separate colors and then reassembling those components to produce white light again. However, in his description of the phenomena of color Newton originally included some remarks about his corpuscular conception of light (perhaps akin to the cogs and flywheels in terms of which James Maxwell was later to conceive of the phenomena of electromagnetism). Hooke interpreted the whole of Newton's optical work as an attempt to legitimize this corpuscular hypothesis, and countered with various objections."
"Newton quickly realized his mistake in attaching his theory of colors to any particular hypothesis on the fundamental nature of light, and immediately back-tracked, arguing that his intent had been only to describe the observable phenomena, without regard to any hypotheses as to the cause of the phenomena. Hooke (and others) continued to criticize Newton's theory of colors by arguing against the corpuscular hypothesis, causing Newton to respond more and more angrily that he was making no hypothesis, he was describing the way things are, and not claiming to explain why they are. This was a bitter lesson for Newton and, in addition to initiating a life-long feud with Hooke, went a long way toward shaping Newton's rhetoric about what science should be…."
"The first edition of The Opticks (1704) contained only 16 queries, but when the Latin edition was published in 1706 Newton was emboldened to add seven more, which ultimately became Queries 25 through 31 when, in the second English edition, he added Queries 17 through 24. Of all these, one of the most intriguing is Query 28, which begins with the rhetorical question "Are not all Hypotheses erroneous in which Light is supposed to consist of Pression or Motion propagated through a fluid medium?" In this query Newton rejects the Cartesian idea of a material substance filling in and comprising the space between particles. Newton preferred an atomistic view, believing that all substances were comprised of hard impenetrable particles moving and interacting via innate forces in an empty space (as described further in Query 31)." – Newton's Cosmological Queries – MathPages.
Grace K. Babson, Sir Isaac Newton, (1950), 141; George J. Gray, A Bibliography of the Works of Sir Isaac Newton, 182; Wallis 182. See: Printing and the Mind of Man, 172. (Inventory #: S13116)