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Newton's "Principia" stolen

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the dirty-filthy-tasteful-thiefs dept.

Science 439

Silverleaf writes "O2 have a story on the theft of Isaac Newton's revolutionary "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" from a Russian museum. For the non-physicists among you, Newton first published his famed three laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation in "Principia" in 1687. I'm surprised this theft hasn't attracted more attention in the mainstream media, since "Principia" is generally considered the most important scientific works in history."

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439 comments

keke (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648106)

keke!

mozilla 1.3a on /nightly/latest

heh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648108)

FP!

Re:heh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648131)

sorry the mozilla monster beat you sir.

It's ok... (5, Funny)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648111)

I have that in paperback. They can have mine.

Re:It's ok... (1, Redundant)

CanadaDave (544515) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648170)

Can you get this in paperback? I wouldn't mind reading it.

no you can't (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648200)

I trolled you.

Re:It's ok... (2, Troll)

spongman (182339) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648201)

I've read it, and I have to say it makes for a pretty frustrating read. He spends pages upon pages basically reinventing calculus in the context of each problem. You'll probably spend most of the book wondering why he didn't just listen to leibnitz in the first place. He probably would have saved himself a whole lot of time (and ink).

Re:It's ok... (5, Informative)

canadian_right (410687) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648246)

He didn't listen to Leibnitz beause he was an egostical maniac, as well as a genuis. Newton independantly invented much of calculus at the same time as Liebnitz, but he did his darnedest to get all the credit. Calculus was a shiny new thing, so it made sense to explain it in his book.

Re:It's ok... (4, Informative)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648340)

There's an obvious reason why he did this: none of his readers could be expected to know calculus. It had, after all, just been invented, or was still in the process of being invented. If he wanted people to understand the concepts, he either had to teach them the math or figure out a way of presenting it convincingly without the reader needing to know calculus. Neither one is an easy prospect. I haven't read Principia myself, but I remember a physics prof mentioning that in some cases he deliberately avoided using calculus because he thought that his demonstrations would be more likely to convince people if they didn't use all that new fangled math, and it wound up being vastly more complicated as a result.

Re:It's ok... (3, Informative)

WatertonMan (550706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648345)

Which translation did you read? There is one that is accompanied by a very good physics commentary that discusses the theorems and proof as well as contrasting the methods with modern physics. Unfortuantely I lost mine and can't for the life of me remember who the translator was. None of the versions I've seen at Barnes and Nobel or Borders are the one I had. Anyway, Leibniz rules for many reasons, not the least of which is his version of the calculus. The Monadology is a pretty interesting read as well. Even if I don't buy it.

FP -- where's the link? (2)

sbeitzel (33479) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648118)

Not Found
The requested URL /news/OLGBTOPNEWS/2002-11-10T173943Z_01_L10426000_ RTRIDST_0_OUKTP-LIFE-RUSSIA-NEWTON.html was not found on this server.

Re:FP -- where's the link? (5, Funny)

dustym (566056) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648133)

First the Principia... NOW THE WEBPAGE.

Have these men no shame?

link broken.. (2, Informative)

NotAnotherReboot (262125) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648120)

Other source of info on this story:

http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=human ne ws&StoryID=1715112

wha????? (1)

erikdotla (609033) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648122)

Reuters isn't a big enough news service?

http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=human ne ws&StoryID=1715112

So? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648124)

fucking what?

Working links (3, Informative)

HeroicAutobot (171588) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648125)

The O2 site seems to have taken the story down.

Google news has some more links. [google.com]

Re:Working links (1)

funkdancer (582069) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648165)

Maybe it's a feature? Automatically protected against the ./ effect - if accessed by a very large number of users in short span of time, return a 404.

I know (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648126)



It must've been Hudson Hawk who stole it..

Re:I know (2)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648199)

Damn. You beat me to the punch. --Only I would have said, "Bruce Willis", just to make the reference sound more high-brow and clever and such. But either way. . .

So does this invalidate the three laws, or are people still allowed to fly to the moon?


-Fantastic Lad

Ebay (5, Funny)

charlie763 (529636) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648127)

Check on ebay, I'm sure it'll be on there soon...

This is no time for jokes! (5, Funny)

Snork Asaurus (595692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648229)

You don't seem to realize the gravity of the situation.

Re:This is no time for jokes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648282)

why? what are you doing about it?

Re:This is no time for jokes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648295)

boy...if there was ever a time when you needed an 'undo submit' button....

Something Tells Me... (4, Insightful)

Bobulusman (467474) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648128)

That that thief will have a hard time finding a buyer. After all, it's hard explain where you got a one of kind book like this.

Re:Something Tells Me... (1)

beldraen (94534) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648152)

You don't steal something like this unless you already *have* a buyer in line..

Re:Something Tells Me... (5, Insightful)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648163)

I'd imagine something so specific as that would only be stolen to order. Probably a buyer already lined up or employed the bad guys to steal it for them.

Stolen to order (2)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648318)

I heard there was this weird rich couple interested in it; something about a crystal hidden in the spine?

Re:Something Tells Me... (2)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648348)

Uh-oh, likes like the MPAA has gotten to this one. Dillusional conspiracy theory, packed with anonymous bad guys acting as front for the "Buyer." He is not completely gone as he not referred to hoping that Tia Carrere, will rescue the book, ala "Relic Hunter."

CmdrTaco, prepare the Brain Degauser...

Re:Something Tells Me... (5, Insightful)

rodgerd (402) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648188)

Some shitbag will be ahppy to lock it away in a safe where they can gloat over it, happy in the knowlege they now have it at the expense of everyone else in the world.

(Not unlike a description of the general process of privatizing the public sphere, really...)

Re:Something Tells Me... (3, Interesting)

spongman (182339) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648261)

Not unlike a description of the general process of privatizing the public sphere, really...
except that privatization usually involves taking something away from the influence of a select few whose sole motivation is political gain and placing it under the influence of an arbitrarily large subset of the public whose sole motivation is the increase of its value (which is linked, in most cases, to its operating efficiency).

Re:Something Tells Me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648308)

you must be a republican, eh?

try websters...

privatize
Pronunciation Key (prv-tz)
tr.v. privatized, privatizing, privatizes

To change (an industry or business, for example) from governmental or public ownership or control to private enterprise...

an "arbitrarily large subset of the public" ... ummm, nope. Try "the rich get richer"...

Re:Something Tells Me... (1)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648232)

Newton's Principa would prolly be quite pretty on the top of my fireplace i guess... as long as the kids don't make fall it in... :P It DOES make something special to show off...

Seriously... I would not bet 5 (canadian) dollars on this... collectors of all kind exists you know... and you'll always find one interested in that kind of thing who has too much money on his hands.

Holy shit! (5, Funny)

EggplantMan (549708) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648140)

Where the hell am I supposed to find obscure geometrical proofs of things otherwised proved by calculus now!?

URGENT (OT): kterm doesn't close on exit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648155)

Hi, I use kterm for my ssh, etc. sessions and for the last couple of weeks kterm windows do not close when I type "exit" or click the "X" widget. I have to actually do a ps -aux | grep kterm, determine the ps of the terminal I want to kill (careful! don't wanna kill the wrong one) and then kill it by hand (the window closes normally when doing a kill).
Using Ximian GNOME 1.2 with all latest redcarpet-applied revisions. No idea what is causing this, but it doesn't happen with gnome-terminal or xterm. Only kterm -- but I need the Japanese support. :-(

Please, for the love of Pete, don't mark this off-topic until somebody has posted a solution. Thanks in advance.

Re:URGENT (OT): kterm doesn't close on exit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648168)

download mozilla 1.3a from ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla/nightly/latest/

Re:URGENT (OT): kterm doesn't close on exit (-1, Offtopic)

scotch (102596) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648220)

Suggestions, in no particular order:
  • use xterm with illegible font, pretend it's japanese
  • use xkill to kill kterm to avoid ps, kill hassle
  • use rxvt with lang extensions
  • use gnome-terminal (newer ones)
  • alias the exit command that finds the process of ther current terminal (easy) and kill -9 it
  • build kterm for debugging and run under gdb to find out what is happening
  • check X session file (often ~/.xsession) for errors
  • submit bug report with KDE
  • submit but report with Linus Torvalds
  • check to see if there are new packages
  • reboot
  • reinstall
  • use windows
  • use solaris
  • use irix
  • learn dutch or english
  • check for loose wires in your case
  • profit
HTH.

Re:URGENT (OT): kterm doesn't close on exit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648331)

submit but report with Linus Torvalds

Wait ... do you mean "bug report" or "butt report" there?

Now what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648161)

People won't learn mechanics anymore?

Moscow Times (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648169)

The Moscow times mentions [themoscowtimes.com] the theft as well (near the bottom of the page). Not nearly as much publicity as it deserves though.

Did anyone else read that headline (1)

s4ltyd0g (452701) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648180)

and think oh great, another scandal amongst the scientific community?

On CNN (1)

fritz_269 (623858) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648181)

CNN has the story here [cnn.com]

Re:On CNN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648195)

and use mozilla 1.3a to view it.

ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla/nightly/latest /

build id: 2002111108

This is dangerous. (5, Funny)

CySurflex (564206) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648187)

Newtons essay is actually written on special material that in fact houses the CORE FUNDAMENTIAL ELEMENTS tha stabalize the laws of physics in our universe. If the theif has it in his mind to incenerate said document, be prepared for chaos. Apples not falling from trees, velocity and acceleration NOT functioning in automobiles (even Italian sportscars), Microsoft going open source, alphas of Doom III leaking. You get my drift. Just be careful.

Re:This is dangerous. (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648335)

That's true. I'm not sure people recognize the gravity of this theft.

What, would a pun about some Apple PDA thingie have been better? :)

Since no one can find the link (5, Informative)

no soup for you (607826) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648191)

From http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=humanne ws&StoryID=1715112

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Thieves have stolen Newton's "apple" from a Russian museum -- the celebrated book in which the 17th century English physicist formulated his eponymous law on gravity which revolutionized science.

Posing as readers, the thieves stole a rare first edition of Isaac Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" from the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg, a library official told Reuters Sunday.

"The loss was discovered straight away when the reading room was closing on November 6 and it had not been returned by the readers who had requested it," the official said.

The theft was reported to police Friday.

Newton's "Principia" (or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), first published in 1687, is considered to be one of the most important single works in the history of modern science.

In "Principia" Newton formulates the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation.

Legend has it that the young Newton was reading under an apple tree when he was struck on the head by a falling fruit, an innocuous event which provided the inspiration for his theories on gravity and secured him a place in history.

His new laws helped him to explain a range of phenomena, including the motion of planets, moons and comets within the solar system, the behavior of Earth's tides, the procession of the equinoxes and irregularities in the moon's orbit.

The library official said the stolen book was usually kept in the archives and only given out to readers for work in the library's reading room.

Re:Since no one can find the link (1)

facelessnumber (613859) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648313)

Uh, so they were in the habit if handing off the original piece for people to flip through? Nevermind whether or not they handed it to trustworthy people - that's a given. But the damn thing's old! I'm surprised it's even in good enough condition to be stolen in the first place.

Re:Since no one can find the link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648330)

BR>
Thief: Hi sir, I'm just here to read the Declaration of Independance. You don't mind if I take it in the bathroom with me do you?

Librarian: Just sign you name on the card first.

the nylug guys stole it (1)

Lepruhkawn (199083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648202)

I'm talkin' 'bout these guys [anders.fix.no] (read the shaving poll comments)

Re:the nylug guys stole it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648312)

Lay off the nerds or i'll smash your fucking face.

Plural (2, Insightful)

Plug (14127) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648203)

"Principia" is generally considered the most important scientific works in history."

All of them? That must be a pretty important book! And one of these Principia were stolen, or more?

Perhaps you meant 'among the most important scientific works in history'...

I submitted this a month ago!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648205)



Oh, wait... [backs from the keyboard slowly]

in other news... (2)

yack0 (2832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648207)

in the place of Newton's tome, 1,000,000 copies of the Principia Discordia were left behind by the 'so called' thieves, who were really making a political statement.

The Newton Tome can be found in the Men's room on the third floor, a little light reading while the free speech advocates took a little 'break'.

They didn't steal the only copy (5, Informative)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648208)

They stole a rare first edition copy. Not the orginal or only copy. It isn't good, but it explains why the press didn't make a big deal out of it.

It wasn't even kept under tight security. They let people read it in the reading room.

Re:They didn't steal the only copy (2)

Windcatcher (566458) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648244)

A good thing, too. If they lifted the original, geez, every physicist on the planet would be screaming for BLOOD. Heck, the nuclear guys alone would be sharpening Pu-238 rods for some ... er ... intimate interrogation of the suspects. And I don't even want to think of what the fields people would do...I suspect the fate they'd plan would make being stuck in a microwave look like getting a lap dance.

Re:They didn't steal the only copy (3, Funny)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648337)

Thank you. I was waiting for someone to point that out. I wonder how many 1st editions are still in existance.

Its the sort of thing that turns up on Antique Roadshow. I can hear the goober now..."I found this in my great-great grandpa's attic. You think I could trade her for sumthin good?...Gooollly, that's a lot of money!"

Oops (5, Funny)

sammy.lost-angel.com (316593) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648217)

>Not Found
>The requested URL /news/OLGBTOPNEWS/2002-11-10T173943Z_01_L10426000_ RTRIDST_0_OUKTP-LIFE-RUSSIA-NEWTON.html was not found on this server.

Well, duh! That's what the story is about. :)

Um... (1)

The-True-Necromancer (102822) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648226)

First of all why was Newtons works in a country OTHER THAN England? And second of all why Russia! I mean I could see a western European country but Russia can't afford to buy their military new fancy toys to play with.

Wasn't this in Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon? (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648230)

I believe in Cryptonomicon, 3 mathematitioans discuss this very thing for a moment, after a miscomunication about "Principia Mathematica". I think this part might even be early enough in the book that it's in the part he has online at http://www.cryptonomicon.com/text.html

Obey the Laws... (5, Funny)

A Guy From Ottawa (599281) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648237)

He was right all along...

The "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" remained in it's initial state of rest (at a museum in russia) until it was acted upon by those theives.

One can only hope that there will be an equal but opposite force exerted upon the theives, as forces always occur in pairs!

bah (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648238)


Newton died years ago. Why not put something in the museum that's a bit more contemporary?
Maybe some Harlequin Romances or Stephen King?

What were they thinking? (1)

bb_referee (548705) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648239)

Most museums place items of such great importance under locked glass, or they just lock them up altogether and show replicas. Why the hell would they just let any ol' person touch them. Paper that old is sensitive to light, not to mention the oils on your fingers!

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648317)

And to think all of this time we were worried about lack of security in weapons disassembly and disposal facilities when we should have been pumping aid into Russia to secure the museums. I hope something is done before many more precious artifacts are lost.

Odd (2)

Sivar (316343) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648249)

Isaac Newton's revolutionary "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" from a Russian museum.

Odd. I could have sworn it was located in the Huntington museum in California, along with Newton's notes, seeing as how I saw it not six months ago.

Of course, it may have been moved to Russia since then. See if we'll ever loan them a famous scientific work again! :)

Re:Odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648323)

inter-library loan perhaps? :o

heck I'm shocked they let the thing out of storage. maybe they just treated it like any other book.

He might not have stolen it (2)

jsse (254124) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648253)

but eaten it, so that the incarnation of Newton wouldn't hurt his girlfriend; but then he would have stolen the idea from Red Dragon [reddragonmovie.com]

"No, I don't want hurt her, but Newton third Law urges me...."

The reason it is not super important (2, Insightful)

Slashdotess (605550) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648256)

Originals in Art, especially those painted or otherwise created non digitally are hard to recreate. The information stored in the way Newton wrote, the shapes of the letters, etc is not THAT important. However, the brush strokes of a Monet or Manet are priceless.

Who is the victim... (1)

Recca (166737) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648262)

now that we are free from the oppressive laws of inertia and opposite reaction? I don't even think the universe was ever planning on opening the source code to physics, and this EULA that Newton devised has just been a setback to innovative new paradigms.

why mainstream media doesn't cover it (1)

Stanley Feinbaum (622232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648263)

Unless a news story has to do with cloning, israel, murder, or some sort of celebrity getting charged with a crime, it won't be published. Sadly Journalism has devolved into the equivelent of a Fox special, displaying only quick thrills and eye catching (but unimportant) news and ignoring the more fundemental events in the world.

Don't worry though, we have slashdot to fill the gaping hole left by todays bad journalism!

I'm not suprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648272)

I'm surprised this theft hasn't attracted more attention in the mainstream media
I'm not the least bit surprised. The media didn't even touch the convicted Iran-Contra felon being appointed to potentially monitor the American people. Compared to that, this is small potatos that doesn't meet the entertainment requirement in today's news.

Steve baby (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648285)

Look out Stephen Hawking - you're next!!

How, how, how? (5, Interesting)

gamgee5273 (410326) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648287)

How the hell do you sell that on the black market? Is there some reclusive physicist out there collecting rare works (Einstein's drink napkin from Le Lapin Agile!) that will pay top dollar for this? If so, how does he/she show it off to their friends and family (assuming that they aren't that reclusive)? How do you explain that you just happen to have this sitting around in the family room?

probably gone forever (5, Funny)

ez76 (322080) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648288)

I fear the crime will stay unsolved unless it is acted upon by an outside force.

Not surprising at all... (2, Funny)

repetty (260322) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648293)

I'm surprised this theft hasn't attracted more attention in the mainstream media, since "Principia" is generally considered the most important scientific works in history."

Oh, come on. Get real... The Sooners lost to the Aggies in College Station. No mystery here.

"theft" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648302)

Once and for all, taking a physical item from its owner is not "theft". Yes this is the common usage these days, but saying something over and over doesn't make it true.

If you want to be accurate, use the word "take". As in, someone "took" the Principia Mathematica.

If you want to give it a positive connotation, use the term "shared" or "loan". As in, I just "shared" my copy of the Principia with a stranger, or I just involuntarily "loaned" my copy to a man in a ski mask with a gun.

Let the RIAA and other thugs use their propaganda words. I'll stick with morally neutral terminology.

Remember, matter just wants to be free. This doesn't mean zero cost, but it means once you pick up a physical object, you can put it in your pocket and head for the hills, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Besides, I believe the Supreme Court has already ruled that people have the right to "space-shift" other people's possessions.

Hey, now I know . . . (1)

Jack William Bell (84469) | more than 11 years ago | (#4648304)

Hey, now I know how to finally get myself a copy of the 'Dragon Book'. I should have thought of this before!

Library of Congress, watch out!

Jack William Bell

hummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4648332)

...all your Principia now belong to us.
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