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Neil Degrasse Tyson has claimed that, via his Principia, Isaac Newton was the first person (on record) to make a "modern" theory of physics, in the sense that Newton made an axiomatic framework to produce predictions that can be compared to observations of reality.

Tyson said this in a lecture, but I'm having trouble finding a link to it right now, but that's not really important because the idea is what I'm asking about.

In any case, can this claim be refuted by a counter example that preceded Newton? Who really was the first to build an axiomatic framework of (at least some part) of nature?

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    $\begingroup$ I think that in the claim that Newton was the first who "made an axiomatic framework to produce predictions that can be compared to observations of reality" the stress lies on the second part. I.e. there might be various axiomatic models of nature predating Newton, which did not make any measurable predictions, hence they might be answers to this question as is but do not necessarily refute the claim. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2023 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ One may argue that Euclid's Elements was an axiomatic model of nature. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2023 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ Aristarchus’s “Sizes and Distances” is a solid contender for the earliest work of theoretical physics that many would say holds up to modern scrutiny. There are also plenty of axiomatic kinematical models of astronomy going back to Ptolemy that predate Newton. I can only assume what NDT meant was that Newton was the first to successfully axiomatize dynamics. $\endgroup$
    – David H
    Sep 25, 2023 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ Despite loose common usage, neither Euclid's Elements nor Newton's Principia were "axiomatic frameworks" in the modern sense, their theorizing was differently structured in essential ways (by non-formal "synthetic" reasoning). But, using it loosely, Eudoxus's geometric astronomy is often credited as the first quantitative predictive model of mathematical physics (discounting geometry as distinct from physics, which is also common today). More of that can be found in Euclid (optics) and Archimedes (statics, hydrostatics). $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Sep 25, 2023 at 3:13

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