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by Isaac NewtonJanuary 27th, 2023

*Opticks by Isaac Newton, is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book **here**. AXIOMS
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AX. I.

The Angles of Reflexion and Refraction, lie in one and the same Plane with the Angle of Incidence.

AX. II.

The Angle of Reflexion is equal to the Angle of Incidence.

AX. III.

If the refracted Ray be returned directly back to the Point of Incidence, it shall be refracted into the Line before described by the incident Ray.

AX. IV.

Refraction out of the rarer Medium into the denser, is made towards the Perpendicular; that is, so that the Angle of Refraction be less than the Angle of Incidence.

AX. V.

The Sine of Incidence is either accurately or very nearly in a given Ratio to the Sine of Refraction.

Whence if that Proportion be known in any one Inclination of the incident Ray, 'tis known in all the Inclinations, and thereby the Refraction in all cases of Incidence on the same refracting Body may be determined. Thus if the Refraction be made out of Air into Water, the Sine of Incidence of the red Light is to the Sine of its Refraction as 4 to 3. If out of Air into Glass, the Sines are as 17 to 11. In Light of other Colours the Sines have other Proportions: but the difference is so little that it need seldom be considered.

Fig. 1

Suppose therefore, that RS [in Fig. 1.] represents the Surface of stagnating Water, and that C is the point of Incidence in which any Ray coming in the Air from A in the Line AC is reflected or refracted, and I would know whither this Ray shall go after Reflexion or Refraction: I erect upon the Surface of the Water from the point of Incidence the Perpendicular CP and produce it downwards to Q, and conclude by the first Axiom, that the Ray after Reflexion and Refraction, shall be found somewhere in the Plane of the Angle of Incidence ACP produced. I let fall therefore upon the Perpendicular CP the Sine of Incidence AD; and if the reflected Ray be desired, I produce AD to B so that DB be equal to AD, and draw CB. For this Line CB shall be the reflected Ray; the Angle of Reflexion BCP and its Sine BD being equal to the Angle and Sine of Incidence, as they ought to be by the second Axiom, But if the refracted Ray be desired, I produce AD to H, so that DH may be to AD as the Sine of Refraction to the Sine of Incidence, that is, (if the Light be red) as 3 to 4; and about the Center C and in the Plane ACP with the Radius CA describing a Circle ABE, I draw a parallel to the Perpendicular CPQ, the Line HE cutting the Circumference in E, and joining CE, this Line CE shall be the Line of the refracted Ray. For if EF be let fall perpendicularly on the Line PQ, this Line EF shall be the Sine of Refraction of the Ray CE, the Angle of Refraction being ECQ; and this Sine EF is equal to DH, and consequently in Proportion to the Sine of Incidence AD as 3 to 4.

In like manner, if there be a Prism of Glass (that is, a Glass bounded with two Equal and Parallel Triangular ends, and three plain and well polished Sides, which meet in three Parallel Lines running from the three Angles of one end to the three Angles of the other end) and if the Refraction of the Light in passing cross this Prism be desired: Let ACB represent a Plane cutting this Prism transversly to its three Parallel lines or edges there where the Light passeth through it, and let DE be the Ray incident upon the first side of the Prism AC where the Light goes into the Glass; and by putting the Proportion of the Sine of Incidence to the Sine of Refraction as 17 to 11 find EF the first refracted Ray. Then taking this Ray for the Incident Ray upon the second side of the Glass BC where the Light goes out, find the next refracted Ray FG by putting the Proportion of the Sine of Incidence to the Sine of Refraction as 11 to 17. For if the Sine of Incidence out of Air into Glass be to the Sine of Refraction as 17 to 11, the Sine of Incidence out of Glass into Air must on the contrary be to the Sine of Refraction as 11 to 17, by the third Axiom.

Fig. 2.

Much after the same manner, if ACBD [in Fig. 3.] represent a Glass spherically convex on both sides (usually called a Lens, such as is a Burning-glass, or Spectacle-glass, or an Object-glass of a Telescope) and it be required to know how Light falling upon it from any lucid point Q shall be refracted, let QM represent a Ray falling upon any point M of its first spherical Surface ACB, and by erecting a Perpendicular to the Glass at the point M, find the first refracted Ray MN by the Proportion of the Sines 17 to 11. Let that Ray in going out of the Glass be incident upon N, and then find the second refracted Ray Nq by the Proportion of the Sines 11 to 17. And after the same manner may the Refraction be found when the Lens is convex on one side and plane or concave on the other, or concave on both sides.

Fig. 3.

AX. VI.

Homogeneal Rays which flow from several Points of any Object, and fall perpendicularly or almost perpendicularly on any reflecting or refracting Plane or spherical Surface, shall afterwards diverge from so many other Points, or be parallel to so many other Lines, or converge to so many other Points, either accurately or without any sensible Error. And the same thing will happen, if the Rays be reflected or refracted successively by two or three or more Plane or Spherical Surfaces.

The Point from which Rays diverge or to which they converge may be called their Focus. And the Focus of the incident Rays being given, that of the reflected or refracted ones may be found by finding the Refraction of any two Rays, as above; or more readily thus.

Cas. 1. Let ACB [in Fig. 4.] be a reflecting or refracting Plane, and Q the Focus of the incident Rays, and QqC a Perpendicular to that Plane. And if this Perpendicular be produced to q, so that qC be equal to QC, the Point q shall be the Focus of the reflected Rays: Or if qC be taken on the same side of the Plane with QC, and in proportion to QC as the Sine of Incidence to the Sine of Refraction, the Point q shall be the Focus of the refracted Rays.

Fig. 4.

Cas. 2. Let ACB [in Fig. 5.] be the reflecting Surface of any Sphere whose Centre is E. Bisect any Radius thereof, (suppose EC) in T, and if in that Radius on the same side the Point T you take the Points Q and q, so that TQ, TE, and Tq, be continual Proportionals, and the Point Q be the Focus of the incident Rays, the Point q shall be the Focus of the reflected ones.

Fig. 5.

Cas. 3. Let ACB [in Fig. 6.] be the refracting Surface of any Sphere whose Centre is E. In any Radius thereof EC produced both ways take ET and Ct equal to one another and severally in such Proportion to that Radius as the lesser of the Sines of Incidence and Refraction hath to the difference of those Sines. And then if in the same Line you find any two Points Q and q, so that TQ be to ET as Et to tq, taking tq the contrary way from t which TQ lieth from T, and if the Point Q be the Focus of any incident Rays, the Point q shall be the Focus of the refracted ones.

Fig. 6.

And by the same means the Focus of the Rays after two or more Reflexions or Refractions may be found.

Fig. 7.

Cas. 4. Let ACBD [in Fig. 7.] be any refracting Lens, spherically Convex or Concave or Plane on either side, and let CD be its Axis (that is, the Line which cuts both its Surfaces perpendicularly, and passes through the Centres of the Spheres,) and in this Axis produced let F and f be the Foci of the refracted Rays found as above, when the incident Rays on both sides the Lens are parallel to the same Axis; and upon the Diameter Ff bisected in E, describe a Circle. Suppose now that any Point Q be the Focus of any incident Rays. Draw QE cutting the said Circle in T and t, and therein take tq in such proportion to tE as tE or TE hath to TQ. Let tq lie the contrary way from t which TQ doth from T, and q shall be the Focus of the refracted Rays without any sensible Error, provided the Point Q be not so remote from the Axis, nor the Lens so broad as to make any of the Rays fall too obliquely on the refracting Surfaces.

And by the like Operations may the reflecting or refracting Surfaces be found when the two Foci are given, and thereby a Lens be formed, which shall make the Rays flow towards or from what Place you please.

So then the Meaning of this Axiom is, that if Rays fall upon any Plane or Spherical Surface or Lens, and before their Incidence flow from or towards any Point Q, they shall after Reflexion or Refraction flow from or towards the Point q found by the foregoing Rules. And if the incident Rays flow from or towards several points Q, the reflected or refracted Rays shall flow from or towards so many other Points q found by the same Rules. Whether the reflected and refracted Rays flow from or towards the Point q is easily known by the situation of that Point. For if that Point be on the same side of the reflecting or refracting Surface or Lens with the Point Q, and the incident Rays flow from the Point Q, the reflected flow towards the Point q and the refracted from it; and if the incident Rays flow towards Q, the reflected flow from q, and the refracted towards it. And the contrary happens when q is on the other side of the Surface.

AX. VII.

Wherever the Rays which come from all the Points of any Object meet again in so many Points after they have been made to converge by Reflection or Refraction, there they will make a Picture of the Object upon any white Body on which they fall.

So if PR [in Fig. 3.] represent any Object without Doors, and AB be a Lens placed at a hole in the Window-shut of a dark Chamber, whereby the Rays that come from any Point Q of that Object are made to converge and meet again in the Point q; and if a Sheet of white Paper be held at q for the Light there to fall upon it, the Picture of that Object PR will appear upon the Paper in its proper shape and Colours. For as the Light which comes from the Point Q goes to the Point q, so the Light which comes from other Points P and R of the Object, will go to so many other correspondent Points p and r (as is manifest by the sixth Axiom;) so that every Point of the Object shall illuminate a correspondent Point of the Picture, and thereby make a Picture like the Object in Shape and Colour, this only excepted, that the Picture shall be inverted. And this is the Reason of that vulgar Experiment of casting the Species of Objects from abroad upon a Wall or Sheet of white Paper in a dark Room.

In like manner, when a Man views any Object PQR, [in Fig. 8.] the Light which comes from the several Points of the Object is so refracted by the transparent skins and humours of the Eye, (that is, by the outward coat EFG, called the Tunica Cornea, and by the crystalline humour AB which is beyond the Pupil mk) as to converge and meet again in so many Points in the bottom of the Eye, and there to paint the Picture of the Object upon that skin (called the Tunica Retina) with which the bottom of the Eye is covered. For Anatomists, when they have taken off from the bottom of the Eye that outward and most thick Coat called the Dura Mater, can then see through the thinner Coats, the Pictures of Objects lively painted thereon. And these Pictures, propagated by Motion along the Fibres of the Optick Nerves into the Brain, are the cause of Vision. For accordingly as these Pictures are perfect or imperfect, the Object is seen perfectly or imperfectly. If the Eye be tinged with any colour (as in the Disease of the Jaundice) so as to tinge the Pictures in the bottom of the Eye with that Colour, then all Objects appear tinged with the same Colour. If the Humours of the Eye by old Age decay, so as by shrinking to make the Cornea and Coat of the Crystalline Humour grow flatter than before, the Light will not be refracted enough, and for want of a sufficient Refraction will not converge to the bottom of the Eye but to some place beyond it, and by consequence paint in the bottom of the Eye a confused Picture, and according to the Indistinctness of this Picture the Object will appear confused. This is the reason of the decay of sight in old Men, and shews why their Sight is mended by Spectacles. For those Convex glasses supply the defect of plumpness in the Eye, and by increasing the Refraction make the Rays converge sooner, so as to convene distinctly at the bottom of the Eye if the Glass have a due degree of convexity. And the contrary happens in short-sighted Men whose Eyes are too plump. For the Refraction being now too great, the Rays converge and convene in the Eyes before they come at the bottom; and therefore the Picture made in the bottom and the Vision caused thereby will not be distinct, unless the Object be brought so near the Eye as that the place where the converging Rays convene may be removed to the bottom, or that the plumpness of the Eye be taken off and the Refractions diminished by a Concave-glass of a due degree of Concavity, or lastly that by Age the Eye grow flatter till it come to a due Figure: For short-sighted Men see remote Objects best in Old Age, and therefore they are accounted to have the most lasting Eyes.

Fig. 8.

AX. VIII.

An Object seen by Reflexion or Refraction, appears in that place from whence the Rays after their last Reflexion or Refraction diverge in falling on the Spectator's Eye.

Fig. 10.

And so the Object Q [in Fig. 10.] seen through the Lens AB, appears at the place q from whence the Rays diverge in passing from the Lens to the Eye. Now it is to be noted, that the Image of the Object at q is so much bigger or lesser than the Object it self at Q, as the distance of the Image at q from the Lens AB is bigger or less than the distance of the Object at Q from the same Lens. And if the Object be seen through two or more such Convex or Concave-glasses, every Glass shall make a new Image, and the Object shall appear in the place of the bigness of the last Image. Which consideration unfolds the Theory of Microscopes and Telescopes. For that Theory consists in almost nothing else than the describing such Glasses as shall make the last Image of any Object as distinct and large and luminous as it can conveniently be made.

I have now given in Axioms and their Explications the sum of what hath hitherto been treated of in Opticks. For what hath been generally agreed on I content my self to assume under the notion of Principles, in order to what I have farther to write. And this may suffice for an Introduction to Readers of quick Wit and good Understanding not yet versed in Opticks: Although those who are already acquainted with this Science, and have handled Glasses, will more readily apprehend what followeth.

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*This book is part of the public domain. Isaac Newton (2010). Opticks . Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved October 2022, **https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/33504/pg33504-images.html*

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