Reference numberMM/1/52
TitleLetter from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz to Henry Oldenburg
Date27 August 1676
DescriptionCopy of a letter referring to geometry.

It makes direct reference to Isaac Newton ("Newton's discoveries are worthy of his genius, which is so abundantly made manifest by his optical experiments and by his catadioptrical tube. His method of obtaining the roots of equations and the areas of figures by means of infinite series is quite different from mine, so that one may wonder at the diversity of paths by which one can reach the same conclusion") and compares his work to that of Mercator.

Leibnitz also writes, "I ask that you should sometimes write a little more clearly of what is being done among you in studies of another kind also, especially in physics and mechanics. Do urge the famous [Robert] Boyle not to suppress his remarkable studies any longer, for I doubt not that he can provide what hitherto no mortal man could, in this field. But he is requested to expound everything frankly and not to keep back so much as he usually does in other writings".

Leibnitz notes in his conclusion: "I have resolved, when I first find the leisure, to take up the matter of reducing all mechanics to pure geometry, and to define problems about elasticity, fluids, pendulums, projectiles, the resistance of solids and frictions etc, which so far nobody has taken in hand. I believe, however, that all this is now possible".

Letter marked " + some particulars about Mr Leibnitz extracted from the Work of the Abbe Conti, as given in the Gazette Litteraire. See the Appendix to the London Magazine of 1764, p680". These "particulars" do not appear as part of the manuscript - the manuscript consisting only of a copy of Leibnitz's letter to Oldenburg (with the first line missing).
Extent6 sides
Access statusOpen
Related materialThe letter is a slightly different copy of an original in the British Museum (MS 4294, ff 67-71; printed in <i>The Correspondence of Isaac Newton</i>, Volume II, pp57-64 from the original; translation pp 65-71). See also <i>The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg</i>, Volume XIII, pp40-51). Both of these printed volumes give the date of the letter as the 17th August 1676
Fellows associated with this archive
NA8001Oldenburg; Henry (c1619 - 1677); scientific correspondentc1619 - 1677
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