Newton and Leibniz: Crash Course History of Science #17


The standard story of the Scientific Revolution
culminates with the long life of one man: Sir Isaac Newton—a humble servant of the
Royal Mint, two-time parliamentarian, and a scientific titan whose name, along with
Einstein’s, is synonymous with physics today. But there was also another Isaac Newton. I mean, it was the same guy, but this Newton
was very different from the mythic, hyper-rational one. This Sir Isaac Newton was also an alchemist,
obsessed with the occult—with hidden, non-rational truths. And every story’s leading character has
to have a foil, right? Enter Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, an equally
remarkable master of mathematics. Together, these rival geniuses would change
the worlds of math and science forever. [INTRO MUSIC PLAYS] Ike was born prematurely on what was then—it’s a long story—Christmas Day in 1642 in the
delightfully named hamlet of Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth. Which is known for… mostly just being the place where
Isaac Newton was born. Newton’s family was not well off. His dad died, and his mom remarried and had
a bunch more kids. Farming in rural Lincolnshire? Not fun. And in school, Ike was bullied. But he discovered that he loved learning,
and so, to no one’s surprise, he did fine at Trinity College, Cambridge, on scholarship. And by “did fine,” I mean that he first
dreamed up the mathematical system that would become calculus before he even graduated. Calculus is the mathematics that describes
how a thing change instantaneously, whether that thing is velocity, acceleration, displacement,
height, weight, volume, or whatever. It provided a new mathematical connection
between displacement, velocity, and acceleration— all of which are required if you want to understand
things like planetary motion. This is all the more amazing because Ike was
poor, he wasn’t tutored at the best schools, and—at the time he went there in 1661—Cambridge
was a backwater college. Fifty years after Bacon’s new, experiment-focused
science, Cambridge was still teaching Aristotle! In 1666, soon after Newton graduated, Cambridge
closed for the year due to fear of the bubonic plague. Newton went back home to Lincolnshire and
had what we now call his annus mirabalis or “miracle year.” In one year, Newton… discovered the laws
of gravity when an apple supposedly fell on his head—although this probably didn’t
actually happen. And he laid down the core ideas that would
lead to his inventing calculus—or co-inventing it. And he started to develop the theory of
light and colors, which holds that white light is made up of seven visible colors. By any measure, Newton had an outstanding
1666. That was not true of everyone, however: that fall,
a Great Fire swept through London for four days, destroying much of the city. Plus, you know, plague. But, like I mentioned, there was another side
of this legendary thinker: Newton was a wee bit eccentric. This almost created a professional problem
for him, because for a while, Cambridge required professors to become Anglican priests, and
he wasn’t exactly an orthodox Christian. Newton thought the Holy Trinity was nonsense. He believed he had unique access to a secret
treasure of wisdom—both religious and scientific—passed down from God to Noah, then Moses, then Pythagoras,
and then himself. Newton was also a major alchemist—as were
his buddies, Robert Boyle and John Locke. But Newton was obsessed with alchemy, or thinking
philosophically about stuff by changing it. While he didn’t view alchemy as separate
from his more scientific-looking investigations into “what is stuff,” he didn’t stray
far from the alchemical mainstream. He kept his furnaces burning for days on end,
transmuting metals. In fact, the largest section of his complete
works concerns alchemy! That said, Newton wasn’t interested in trying
to turn lead into gold. He was just trying to understand everything. Newton returned to work at Cambridge in 1667,
continuing to work on his revolutionary insights. He first published on optics, in 1672 in the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. With what became known as his “crucial experiment,”
Newton showed that light is composed of rays of different colors that can be split using
a prism, and that these rays can’t be further split by a second prism. And that the color of light can be brought
back to white using a mirror. BOOM. Okay, this may not sound like a mic drop by
today’s standards. But at the time, there was a lot of debate
about the relationship between color and light. Newton theorized that light is made of different
colors that are visible only when refracted, or bent. Newton’s fellow science-genius, Robert Hooke,
believed that light is wave, whereas Newton, like René Descartes, believed light is a
“corpuscle,” or particle. Newton’s paper on optics earned him membership
in the Royal Society. It also proved to be quite controversial. Many of Newton’s peers still believed in
an Aristotelian version of optical physics, and others believed in Descartes’s version. The debate went on for decades, leading Newton
to shun public life. Through his work on optics, Newton also developed
the first functional reflecting telescope, using a mirror to focus light. Newton’s work on light was collected in
the 1704 book Opticks. By then, Newtonian optics had beaten out its
Aristotelian and Cartesian competitors. But that’s not all, because it’s
Newton, so of course it’s not. He concluded Opticks with a series of “queries,”
or questions. Though they weren’t really questions, but rhetorical
statements meant to guide further research. In the first edition, there were sixteen queries. As he continued his own research, Newton added
more queries in subsequent editions, up to thirty one. The queries went way beyond optical physics,
concerning the nature and transmission of heat, the possible cause of gravity, electricity,
how God created matter “in the Beginning,” the proper way to do science, and the ethical
conduct of human beings. As much as the work on optics itself, these
queries influenced science for centuries. But a new paradigm in optics isn’t what
Newton is best known for. Nor for making the first calculation of the
speed of sound. Nor for all of his other brilliant ideas. Newton is best known as the person who…
one, mathematically perfected the astronomical system of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo,
which we spent two episodes on; Two, mathematically described how gravity
works, setting the stage for classical mechanics; and, three, introduced calculus to the world. You may think this is too much to cram into
one book—but then you wouldn’t be Ike. Newton dropped The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, or simply Principia,
in 1687. Work on the book began a few years earlier, when Edmund
Halley—the astronomer after whom Halley’s comet is named—asked Newton about his thoughts
about Kepler’s model of planetary motion. How did the sun invisibly control the planets? Newton took a few years, but what he delivered
was a book that gave a fairly complete answer. In fact, almost none of Newton’s contemporaries
could fully understand Principia, the math was so dense! Principia was made up of three books. It begins with axioms, or core principles. In the introduction, Newton explains that,
if you take his system, you get Galileo’s law of falling bodies. Book one focused on the motion of bodies in
free space, laying out the core principles of calculus, the branch of mathematics that
concerns derivatives and integrals. Newton described how centripetal force works,
exploring the implications of his math regarding how objects move. But Newton discussed calculus in terms of
geometry because—remember—no one else had ever heard of calculus before! Book two concerned the movement of bodies
in a restricted medium like a fluid, instead of a free space. This was Newton’s answer to Descartes, whose
system proposed that the planets move through a fluid æther. Book three, finally, turned to celestial mechanics. Newton specified for the first time that gravity
was the force holding all of the planets in their orbits around the sun. With this book, he unified the work
of Descartes, Galileo, Kepler, and Copernicus into one mathematically sound system. This was the first time that natural philosophers
in Europe had had a single system for understanding what stuff is and how it moves since Aristotle. Newton’s work in math is a good example
of a new mechanical intelligibility in science. Mechanical intelligibility is just the idea
that a fact about nature is true because we can do stuff with it—say, predict the
motions of planets—even if we don’t understand what it—like, gravity—really is. Now, for all the awesomeness that is Newton,
the story of the other person who invented calculus is equally impressive. Introduce us, ThoughtBubble! Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was born in Leipzig, in what was then the Holy Roman Empire,
in 1646. He wrote his first book, De Arte Combinatoria,
or On the Combinatorial Art, at the age of nineteen, in that fateful year, 1666. Leibniz worked on almost every area of natural
philosophy—reshaping how libraries work, inventing the mechanical calculator, creating
the binary notation that would centuries later be central to computer science, and becoming
a major figure in philosophy. Leibniz worked out elements of calculus in
1675, independently of Newton. And we actually use Leibniz’s version, not
Newton’s! But in 1676, Leibniz traveled to London. This trip would become the primary evidence
in the long-standing priority dispute, or argument about who invented calculus first. The English math posse accused the German
of having glimpsed Newton’s unpublished notes. What did Leibniz discover back in 1675, over
a decade before the publication of Principia? He used integral calculus for the first time
in history to find the area under the graph of a function. Which might not sound impressive, but it is. In doing so, he made up some important notation,
or symbols, including the d for differentials and the integral sign, which is a long S standing
for the Latin word “summa,” or highest. We still use Leibniz’s notation today. But Leibniz didn’t publish his calculus
until 1684. And he didn’t lay out his full theory, expressing
the inverse relation of integration and differentiation—AKA the fundamental theorem of calculus—until
1693, well after Principia. This delay, along with a growing rivalry between
thinkers from different nations, meant that Leibniz never really got the credit he deserved. The Royal Society favored Newton from the
start. They never gave Leibniz a chance to offer
his version of events, ruling in favor of Newton—the Society’s president—in 1713. Thanks Thoughtbubble.
Until he died, Leibniz had to fight to prove that he had invented calculus without consulting
Newton’s notes. And there is still no complete edition of
the writings of Leibniz available in English! Now, the role of the Royal Society in this
dispute is worth pointing out here, because this was the time when scientific societies
were first coming into existence. These were salons where natural philosophers
could debate ideas. The first major scientific society—mentioned
in our first episode—was the Royal Society of London, founded in 1660 and given a royal
charter in 1662. Here, natural philosophers held weekly discussions. The Society consisted of elected members or
“Fellows of the Royal Society,” who add the letters “FRS” after their names. Robert Hooke became the Royal Society’s
official Curator of Experiments, and Newton served as president between 1703 and 1727. The Royal Society was not alone. The Academy of Sciences in Paris was established
in 1666, based out of the Louvre. The Academy maintained the royal observatories
and held public salons. The nearby Royal Garden,
founded in 1626 and opened to the public in 1640, also served as a way of spreading new
ideas about science. Importantly, scientific societies functioned
as publishers. In addition to journals sharing the latest
discoveries, such as the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions, they printed field-defining
books such as Hooke’s Micrographia in 1665 and Newton’s Principia in 1687. Scientific societies were also a place for
debate, including the super unfair one between Newton and Leibniz over calculus. With the exchange of ideas that scientific
societies facilitated, natural philosophy became a public enterprise. Printing and the availability of mail between
nations—even rivals, sometimes at war with one another—became crucial for the production
of knowledge. But the societies also helped generate a new
need in early modern Europe for expert knowledge, by showing the utility of science, securing
government patronage, and helping to develop commercial applications for the discoveries
of their members. We can never properly repay Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth
for its contribution to the history of science. But the bigger point is that Newton was part
of a whole scientific culture engaged in lively internal debate about what counts as valid
knowledge and what to do with it. By the time Newton left Cambridge to become
superintendent of the Royal Mint, in 1696, the paradigm for scientific knowledge production
in Europe had definitively shifted away from Aristotle and toward Galileo and Bacon…
and Ike and Leibniz. Next time—get ready to get your phlogist-on—and
then gone: we’re revolutionizing chemistry with Lavoisier! Crash Course History of Science is filmed in the Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT. And it is made possible with the help of all these nice people. And our animation team, is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you wanna keep imagining the world complexly with us check out some of our other channels like The Financial Diet, Scishow Space, and Mental Floss. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone forever, you can support the series on Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making Crash Course possible with their continued support.

Comments 100

  • Quick note that we learned later that we mispronounced "Principia" and have corrected it in subsequent episodes. WHOOPS! We actually had Allison Marsh, our consultant in the room for a later shoot and we were all very embarrassed. Thanks for understanding 🙂

    – Nick Jenkins (Senior Producer)

  • I really love all things presented by you, Mr. Green, but have I ever heard so many languages pronounced so wrongly? I think not. Keep up the good work, and perhaps try a bit to correct your Latin, French and German pronunciations.

  • …add to that, Newton vs Einstein who discarded Newtonian mathematics to adopt some popular conjectures to physics in particular the co-relativity of motion not just relativity…

  • It's true that Newton didn't discover the laws of gravity when an apple fell on his head. It was a pear that fell.

  • Imagine how much cooler it would’ve been if this course was called “History of Alchemy”. Because, well, it is essentially 👌

  • Miracle anus

  • “L’eye-b nits”
    “L’eye-p zeesh”

  • Wasn't Calculus used in India i.e. Madava' Kerala school of Mathematics Before Apple fall on Newton?

  • No actually Newtons family was well off. Yeah they werent superrich but they had a big house with many rooms and he was literate.He lived raised by servants until his mother returned several years later. Newton wasn't poor.

  • 3:36 No but he had an alchemists view of knowledge as secrets to be hoarded. Hence why he got along so badly with the scientific community who believed knowledge should be shared. Also hence why he alwaysbshowed up when someone else had published something and claimed he had discovered it years earlier.

  • 4:39 And hooke was right. Yes lights a particle too but not a classic particle which is what Newton was talking about.

  • 6:56 No the reason newtons contemporaries couldn't understand it is Newton like the alchemist he was left part out that could only be understood if you understand calculus which he never fully explained in the principia.
    And also because Newton suck at explaining stuff and creating useful notations, hence why no one use best one notation today while Leibniz notation is still the best one when doing formal math (for every day work Lagrange's notation is most common).

  • Newton did math physics and astronomy. He deserves more than an episode comparing him Leibniz!!

  • At 1:38 did you mean "continuously" instead of "instantaneously"? Cause as far as i can tell, instantaneous changes are very easy to describe… the rate of change is either 0 or infinite.

  • You can pronounce Einstein correctly but Leipzig and Leibniz are too hard? How is that possible it is the same sound!

  • lai-bi-nitz

  • The newtow notation for the derivative is not used anymore in the English speaking world ? Strange…

    In France, we still use both Newton and leibniz notation as well as the Lagrange notation. it depends on the field
    Mechanics => newton's
    Phisics except mechanics + multivariable calculus => lagrange's
    Mathematics except multivariable calculus => leibniz's
    Are we alone?

  • Can you post a link to Newton's Queries?

  • Great video. Thanks Hank.
    I will just add another pedantic pronunciation correction – Latin this time
    Annus miRAbilis
    The L is also pronounced like LL – short i’s each side

  • so in retrospect , Eve never would have bit the apple had it not been for gravity

  • Principia is pronounced with a hard c

  • It's not Liebnitz it's Leibnitz the ei is pronounced as the English "I".

  • Isn't the integral symbol an S because it is a kind of "sum"? (also "summa" in latin)

  • It's actually pronounced "Ee-zak Newton"

  • great!

  • Leebnits? Leepzig? Oh, dear, hank. You’re so smart. Please run names like these past a German before you tackle them again.

  • ZNj

  • "Netwon thought the Holy Trinity was nonsense." My man!

  • If you want to keep Crash Course free for everyone then you (someone) pay us some money. I know what he meant, still sounds funny.

  • Not the best one you made…

  • Both Newton and Leibniz have cookies named in their honor. They’re different from each other’s so we don’t have to worry about who’s came first.

  • Why is Newton "Ike"?

  • "humble servant of the royal mint" who hanged several men 😀

  • I never knew about newtons crucial experment.

  • hank mispronounces Newton. it's actually pronounced Neh-oo-tone

  • awful latin pronunciation. Thumb down.

  • All he discovered he discovered it in the irrational occult teachings

  • Come on guys, cool stuff as always, but pronouncing "Leibniz" correctly is baby tier German.

  • And, why do you mention Hamlet, Hark? Is it something to it that I don't know? I must be going crazy.

  • I thought I remembered SciShow (or some other such YouTube series) discussing how there are actually 6 basic colors in white light, but due to Newton's obsession with numerology and other mystical 'sciences,' and the power of the number 7, he essentially created indigo as its own color so there would be 7 parts to light. Am I just imagining this? If not, when and how did we learn this?

  • Why does the into to these videos remind me of Comedy Central so hard?

  • Interesting historical note: Some sources argue that Leibniz was the first to come up with the principle of least action. In light of the Calculus Priority Dispute that Leibniz had with Newton, and the fact that Leibniz's work had historically been overshadowed by that of Newton, it's interesting to note that the principle of least action has outlived Newtonian physics. Newtonian physics was overthrown through the work of Einstein and others, but least action continues to be relevant in modern physics. It's intriguing how Leibniz came up with a principle that was more fundamental than Newton's laws, was overshadowed by Newton for centuries, and was finally vindicated by modern physics.

  • I was going to write a comment about his pronunciation of the German "ei" sound, but it appears the rest of the German speaking world has already beaten me to it.

  • I was going to write a comment about his pronunciation of the German "ei" sound, but it appears the rest of the German speaking world has already beaten me to it.

  • Leibniz is underrated by an Anglophone history establishment. In reality, Newton stole the idea of gravitation from Robert Hooke.

  • Very interesting… after your pretty harsh portrayal of Bacon, I was keen to see how will you portray Newton, a very, very spiteful, angry, bullying and pretty much buy awful human being, by most accounts – though genius, who is a keystone figure in all of humanity so far..very interesting indeed 🙂

  • what r key differences betn the 2 versions of calculus?

  • Hello CrashCourse team.
    I'm an autodidact maths student whose mathematical knowledge is no less than a university student. I've observed the traditional way of teaching maths which I found quite faulty. They teach in two extreme ways : first, by showing them the abstract mathematical objects which students usually don't understand and they just keep on using them blindly. Second, they tell them only intuitions which is quite better but then students lose the deepness of maths. But one should learn maths in way the Mathematicians had learned, they should be introduced with a topic with the intuitions and rigorous thoughts of Mathematicians who discovered it. So I'm requesting you for all of the maths students to make a series on 'history of mathematics'.

  • Thanks for info

  • Leebnitz? There were several others also that made this particular episode rather difficult to watch.

  • 8 minutes and i did not hear something from Leibniz….. the real inventor of differential calculation

  • He barely talked about Leibniz and seem to favor Newton….

  • Born on Christmas, a apple fell on his head in the year 1666, and white light… I’m not religious, but his story sounds like it’s a page torn out of the Bible.

  • I can feel the "American superiority " in pronouncing Leibnitz and Principia.

  • I’ve only heard two pronunciations of principia, and you picked a wrong one somehow lol

  • At 9:29 we can enjoy the view from Leebnitzes window on the power line close to the neighboring house. It took two centuries from Leebnitz since the first power lines were built, but you should not fix that as it fits well with the other inaccuracies and mispronounces.

  • gang weed

  • please learn to pronounce the few foreign words in your episodes :I Leibnitz, Leipzig and Louvre… can't be so hard to go to google translate and listen to the audio

  • This comment section is hot garbage.

  • Having a lot of fun noting how many ways names like "Leibnitz" can be mispronounced. ^_^

  • Dorky American fake teacher didn't bother to research how to pronounce "Liebniz". Terrible junk video too.

  • Next time get a real scientist or mathematician to talk about this stuff, not a youtube talking head.

  • Where was the thought bubble on how to pronounce "Liebniz"?

  • All these whiny comments of Hank's anglicized version of a German name….. y'all probably English natives but had someone tell you the "Proper" way of saying Leibniz and now it's just a circle jerk of telling someone off. Hank's pronunciation of so many names are "wrong" to natives' ears. His pronunciation of the name "Leeuwenhoek" didn't even come close to sounding Dutch (props on his 'Delft' tho that was spot on). Nobody was whining then. Why is suddenly Leibniz the hill to die on smh….

  • it's pronounced: LIE-P-T-ZICK

  • WHO IS IKE!!??????

  • Best introduction ever 😍!

  • I sense Sheldon's attitude in issac newton 3:12

  • so many trigerred germans in the comment section 😂

  • The only reason I disliked was because it had 68. Otherwise: like

  • pretty sure its prinCIpia, not princiPIa.

  • Sometimes I wonder how genuises like Newton even come to existence. While someone like me is just a simple folk who sometimes even have a hard time with basic arithmetic Math.

  • and even in this video. butthurt Indians will comment that isaac newton stole it from India 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣Lol.

  • 1666 ehhhh??

    ILLUMINATI CONFIRMATORIATUS!!!

  • prinKIPia

  • correct me if I am wrong, but from my knowledge the concept binary and grouping everything in the world into twos (on/off, up/down) was thought up by George Boole at University College Cork, and with it Boolean algebra consistent of AND, OR, NOT, NAND, NOR, XOR, XNOR scenarios in logic, which can be applied to logic gates, which is used in the digital world.

  • Amiga 1000 spotted at 8:55

  • Ein germanische Holzschuhschnitzer scheisst gerade in sein Leipziger Scheisshaus. Learn this, and you'll never say it wrong again. If you can say Einstein, you can say Leipzig, ei, ei. Donnerwetter!

  • Lesbian

  • 2:18 “…when an APPLE supposedly fell on his head…he laid down the CORE ideas…”
    I see what you did there!

  • too many movements of hands…please concentrate on movements of planets. Got it ?

  • While Isaac Newton was lying and sticking daggers in Leibniz
    And hiding up inside his attic on some Harry Potter business
    The universe is infinite, but this battle is finished

  • sickening to listen to a conformist talk about esoterics

  • I was hoping that this video would focus more on the history of Calculus rather then all of the other random facts

  • Leibniz is pronounced "lolly-bones"! Sheesh!

    Einstein is pronounced "oomps-toonz". Gimme a break!

    Isaac is pronounced "Itzhak Perlman". Ever heard of a dictionary?

  • WOW, way to skip the fact that he had a Latin copy of the JEWISH ZOHAR.

  • Newton vs Liebniz
    Edison vs Tesla
    Who really cares?
    In the end we just use whatever they left behind. That's enough credit for the dead.

  • This video is really really ill-conceived: poor Latin pronunciation, and Leibniz (pronunciation "(/ˈlaɪbnɪts/") is prononunced "libniz", O gosh!

  • Don't forget that Roger Bacon was exploring prisms and lenses long before Isaac was a twinkle in his parents' eyes.

  • great videos, and despite my wifes feelings to the contrary, your the better of the two brothers. 😉

  • Great fire of London: 1666
    sees the 666 at the end

    iS gOd TrYiNg To TeLl Us SoMeThInG??

  • That’s what’s missing in science these days. Not that the occult or alchemy has scientific veracity, but the artist and mystical elements can promote alternative ways of seeing the universe

  • Leibniz and newton both them plagarized the calculas from Indian source. So none of these two were great.

  • And he still thought he lived in the best possible of worlds….

  • Mathematics is the language used by Science. It is amazing to know that a Mathematician like Newton can perfectly say/construct the Three laws of Motion and the Universal Law of Gravitation. The appearance of Liebniz as another inventor of Calculus would make us see that no one has a monopoly of knowledge. The knowledge that one can discover today is open to be discovered by anyone, maybe at the same instant that we are discovering ours…

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