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History and Philosophy of Science

Guide to Resources for History and Philosophy of Science

General Reference

Subject areas of possible interest to those researching within the topic of Physics & Astronomy might include PhysicsPhysics -- Early works to 1800, Mechanics, Celestial mechanics, Calculus -- Early works to 1800, Mathematics -- Early works to 1800, Astronomy, Matrix mechanics, and Quantum theory.

James Ferguson

Portrait of James Ferguson

James Ferguson was a Scottish astronomer best known as the individual who improved and invented many astronomical and other scientific instruments. The totality of Ferguson's formal education was met at a single grammar school at Keith, Scotland in his younger years. His works within the field of astronomy and other sciences can thus only be attributed to his own self-discipline, and an ambition to study the sciences.  He produced a number of books during his life, including The use of a new orrery… (1746), Astronomy explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s principles… (1756), The young gentleman and lady’s astronomy (1768), and The art of drawing in perspective… (1775). 

Regardless of how well-known Ferguson is today, he was widely influential in his own time and has been mentioned by personalities such as Founding Father Thomas Paine and German experimental physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who is most known for his discovery and study of the Lichtenberg figure which is named after him. Ferguson died in London on November 17, 1776, leaving works like this extraordinarily illustrated atlas as a legacy. 

Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was a 17th to 18th-century mathematician and physicist who is recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time and is credited with being a key figure in jump-starting the scientific revolution. He is most known for his work on universal gravitation, the three laws of motion which formed the basic principles of modern physics, and his discovery of calculus. 

Finding Aids

Finding Aids are tools which facilitate the discovery of detailed information about a specific collection of records within an archive, often consisting of document inventory as well as a description of the materials, their source, and their structure.

Collections and Rare Items

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