What was Isaac Newton's contribution to optics? I know that he believed in the corpuscular theory of light. Did he know about the laws of reflection ad refraction?

  • $\begingroup$ See Newton's Opticks. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2019 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ It took a very long time to overturn some of Newton's ideas about light. You might like to read the wiki page for Augustin-Jean Fresnel who put the final nail into the coffin of the corpuscular theory. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustin-Jean_Fresnel $\endgroup$
    – Lysistrata
    May 13, 2019 at 19:21

1 Answer 1


Contribution of Newton to optics is enormous. He is considered a founding father of physical optics. I can only give some examples. His main discovery was that the sunlight can be dissolved into colors (spectrum). The discovery which lead to spectroscopy, and eventually to quantum mechanics. He also analysed what is called "Newton rings" (discovered by Hooke short time before). On the practical side he made one of the first reflecting telescopes, this kind of telescope is still called "Newtonian". His book "Opticks" lays the foundation of the subject of "physical optics", and can be compared in its influence only to Principia of the same Newton.


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