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The Path to Newton

The Path to Newton is a project that tracks the development of ideas about the universe and the causal mechanisms that define it across human history. Beginning with the ancient naked-eye astronomy of the Babylonians, through the natural philosophizing of Ancient Greece and the development of key mathematical advances in India and the Middle East, The Path to Newton ultimately culminates in the development of Isaac Newton's Theory of Gravity. Atop generations of scientific advancement across cultures and continents and the groundwork laid by his contemporary interlocutors in Renaissance Europe, Newton formulated a genuinely predictive theory of gravity, which definitely placed the Sun at the center of the solar system and for the first time could mathematically predict the machinations of heavenly bodies. This work is a picture of that history: the immense inputs of time, effort, and thought put together into a predictive theory which Newton completed, but hardly began. The goal of this project is not to celebrate Newton's discovery in isolation, but to highlight the path that made it possible.

This site cannot hold the visuals of the Path to Newton in their entirety. To enjoy this project in full, view it at

To learn more about how the Path to Newton can be used in teaching science through its history, come over to the Path-To Foundation website (new in 2022!).

For more Prediction Project resources related to the Path to Newton, try these, below!

Additional Path to Newton Resources

PtN Resources

History of Math & Astronomy in India

Interview on Indian Astronomy & Mathematics with Caltech's Ashish Mahabal (full video is 46 minutes)

Schchner & Gingerich on Comets+

A discussion where Sara Schechner & Owen Gingerich talk about comets, and more (full video 33 min)

Discussion with Stuart Firestein

Alyssa explains the Path's origins, and chats about it with  Columbia University neuroscience professor Stuart Firestein, author of "Ignorance: How it Drives Science."

About Galileo: with Paolo Galluzzi

Interview on Galileo with Paolo Galluzzi, head of the Galileo Musuem, in Florence (full video 28 minutes)

Link to the Galileo Museum interactive website.

Tycho Brahe insights, with Owen Gingerich

A quick interview with Owen Gingerich about Tycho Brahe's Data, and it's tremendous significance, including to Kepler (in Owen Gingerich's office).
Apologies for "Leavitt"  typo in this draft, only watch 1:15-3:35.

Galieo's New Order (WWT Tour Video)

A video version of the interactive WorldWide Telescope Tour explaining the significance of Galileo's discover of Jupiter's moons.   (More information, and downloadable tour, at this WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Tour page.)

The NEWTON Project

And, if you'd like more videos relevant to the Path to Newton, and to Longitude, try this collection on edX. (free sign-in required).

Lastly, an experimental "timeline" version of the Path to Newton, using the output of Aeon Timeline, and the timeline metadata standard established by The Timeline Consortium. (click here to pop it out)

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