Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that when it comes to the history of science I have a pedantic streak about as wide as a six lane highway, which I subtly wield like a fifty ton steam roller gone rampant. Well today the person I have to dish out some of my notorious HistSci Hulk arse kicking to is myself! I ought to find the situation embarrassing but somehow I find it really funny. Before I started this blog I wrote a couple of guest blogs that John Wilkins, The Albino Aussie AnthropoidTM, was kind enough to post on his excellent blog, Evolving Thoughts, thus lowering the tone by several degrees, and one guest blog which Will Thomas was equally kind in posting on his just as excellent blog Ether Wave Propaganda. In the latter I dropped a clangour and a real big one at that.
What is funny about this situation is that I posted my piece on 8th December 2008 and since then it has been read by several thousand people and nobody noticed the glaring error until Kirsten Walsh of the also excellent Early Modern Experimental Philosophy Research Project blog read it two days ago! My post told the story of Isaac Newton’s first scientific paper, on optics, and its reception. Right at the beginning of the post I quoted the full title of the paper as it appeared in the Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society for 1672 or at least that’s what I intended to do and thought I had done. However as Kirsten quite correctly pointed out I had by mistake posted the title of Newton’s second article:
A Serie’s of Quere’s Propounded by Mr. Isaac Newton, to be Determin’d by Experiments, Positively and Directly Concluding His New Theory of Light and Colours; and Here Recommended to the Industry of the Lovers of Experimental Philosophy, as they Were Generously Imparted to the Publisher in a Letter of the Said Mr. Newtons of July 8.1672
and not the first one:
A Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton, Professor of the Mathematicks in the University of Cambridge; Containing His New Theory about Light andColors: Sent by the Author to the Publisheefrom Cambridge, Febr. 6. 1671/72; In Order to be Communicated to the R. Society
What can I say apart from “shit happens” even to the best intentioned of us and apologies to all those thousand of readers who were misled by me as to the true title of Newton’s first paper. I won’t do it again gov’, ‘onest!