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Desert Diary


Brilliant blue skies, spectacular rainbows, and glorious sunsets are nature's gifts to our Chihuahuan Desert dwellers. They provide inspirations for poets, songwriters, and the common man. But for scientists, understanding the science behind the colors we see daily was a challenge until the Englishman Sir Isaac Newton tackled the problem. He explained the composite nature of light, giving subsequent scholars new ways of examination.

Although we usually think of his discovery of the law of gravitation as one of his greatest achievements, perhaps even greater was his ability to create systems of understanding. He took a hodgepodge of isolated facts and laws and unified them so that they could be applied to physical phenomena to make exact predications in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. His great scientific works were published as the Principia and Opticks. Newton died at age 85 on March 20, 1727. He was so honored by his countrymen that he was the very first scientist to be buried in Westminister Abby in London. On the anniversary of his death, we, too, can honor him for giving us a better understanding of the natural world we see.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Florence Schwein, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



Web Resources

Newton and the Universal Law of Gravitation.