Query 31 in Newton's opticks contains the following words: "But by reason of the Tenacity of Fluids, and Attrition of their Parts, and the Weakness of Elasticity in Solids, Motion is much more apt to be lost than got, and is always upon the Decay". One can cautiously interpret this sentence as containing all the elements for a formulation of the second law of thermodynamics. Because for Newton, "motion" is momentum, or organized motion, and not random motion like heat. In other words, Newton states the universe tends to randomality and disorder.

Also, by "the Weakness of Elasticity in Solids" Newton refers to inelastic collisions, and by "But by reason of the Tenacity of Fluids, and Attrition of their Parts" he reffers to viscocity in fluids.

This interpretation was taken from http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s8-02/8-02.htm. Now to my questions:

  • This far-reaching interpreation of the sentence fron Newton's opticks is based on very slight evidence (One can give a simpler interpretation of it). So, was the notion of "loss of motion" a reoccuring topic in Newton's writings, or is this sentence the only reference to such issues?
  • Did Newton's statement have any influence on the first researchers of heat and thermodynamics?
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think you are reading too much into it. This vague platitude contains elements of the second law nor more than Ecclesiastes, and no more than an observation that objects fall down contains elements of the law of gravity. It certainly has not a hint of "randomness and disorder", let alone having a measure of that that could enter a law. Not everything Newton wrote is deep. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 20 '18 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ It seems to me that you're right. I didnt find enough evidence supporting my claim on the web. $\endgroup$ – user2554 Jul 22 '18 at 16:29

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