The early eighteenth century disseminators of Newtonianism built their reputations on the back of Newton's great works in physics and optics. Their great skill was to realize that although Newton's mathematics was far too complex for the average reader, his core doctrines could be displayed to the general public by means of spectacular experiments. They designed instruments and machines which could be used to accompany the lectures in experimental philosophy that they gave in coffee houses, institutions such as the Royal Society, and even their own houses. Enlightening Science recasts this pedagogical approach to help contextualise and demystify the thought, work and writings of Isaac Newton in the 21st century.
This site is split into five sections. Each one constitutes a learning object that contains a set of resources designed to help readers explore the historical and scientific issues at stake. These resources include video and audio interviews with experts in Newton and Newtonian science; fully searchable transcriptions of works by Newton and others; explanatory material; and, finally, video reconstructions of some of the more important experiments, performed as they would have been in the eighteenth century, and explained in terms of their modern relevance.
The five learning objects currently available are as follows: