Scientific treasures shown at the Wren Library

Dr Nicolas Bell, Librarian at The Wren with Isaac Newton's own first edition copy of Opticks: or, A treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflexions and colours of light.

Photo: Dr Nicolas Bell, Librarian at The Wren with Isaac Newton's own first edition copy of Opticks: or, A treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflexions and colours of light.


Following on from our summer visit to the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) on Bletchley Park, CPS visited the Wren Library at Trinity College Cambridge. The tour was kindly hosted by Dr Nicolas Bell, Librarian at The Wren.

Dr Bell presented a number of items relating to the The Cambridge Philosophical Society, as well as other items which related to Cambridge science during the 200 years of the Society's history.

Of particular interest was a first edition of On the Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin, sent by the publisher John Murray to Adam Sedgwick, Darwin's former teacher and one of the three founders of The Cambridge Philosophical Society in 1819. Sedgwick had made notes throughout the book, commenting on sections of Darwin's hypothesis.

Isaac Newton's own first edition copy of Opticks: or, A treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflexions and colours of light published in English in 1704 was also shown. Newton had made corrections and detailed annotations of revised research in the margins for the second edition. 

Dr Bell also produced a number of personal items from the British physicist and Nobel laureate J. J. Thomson, including a Christmas card from Marie Curie, a personal artifact which showed their friendship. Items from George Paget Thomson were also shown.

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