„Were I to assume an hypothesis, it should be this“

—  Isaac Newton, Context: Were I to assume an hypothesis, it should be this, if propounded more generally, so as not to assume what light is further than that it is something or other capable of exciting vibrations of the ether. First, it is to be assumed that there is an ethereal medium, much of the same constitution as air, but far rarer, subtiller, and more strongly elastic.... In the second place, it is to be supposed that the ether is a vibrating medium, like air, only the vibrations much more swift and minute; those of air made by a man's ordinary voice succeeding at more than half a foot or a foot distance, but those of ether at a less distance than the hundredth-thousandth part of an inch. And as in air the vibrations are some larger than others, but yet all equally swift... so I suppose the ethereal vibrations differ in bigness but not in swiftness.... In the fourth place, therefore, I suppose that light is neither ether nor its vibrating motion, but something of a different kind propagated from lucid bodies. They that will may suppose it an aggregate of various peripatetic qualities. Others may suppose it multitudes of unimaginable small and swift corpuscles of various sizes springing from shining bodies at great distances one after the other, but yet without any sensible interval of time.... To avoid dispute and make this hypothesis general, let every man here take his fancy; only whatever light be, I would suppose it consists of successive rays differing from one another in contingent circumstances, as bigness, force, or vigour, like as the sands on the shore... and, further, I would suppose it diverse from the vibrations of the ether.... Fifthly, it is to be supposed that light and ether mutually act upon one another.... æthereal vibrations are therefore the best means by which such a subtile agent as light can shake the gross particles of solid bodies to heat them.
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Isaac Newton4
philosophe, mathématicien, physicien, alchimiste, astronome… 1643 - 1727
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