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Halley and Newton - from Dark to Light

Fulfillment Amphitheater, Taichung
Saturday & Sunday, April 19 & 20, 2014

ewton's law of universal gravitation explains how things fall on earth and how planets move around the sun and how moons move around planets. People had been studying comets for hundreds of years and thought that comets just came and went, and that nobody could know when or why. Edmond Halley, an English astronomer and mathematician who was the first to calculate the orbit of a comet later named after him, decided to try Newton's theory on comets. He suggested that the force of attraction between the planets and the sun decreased in inverse proportion to the square of the distance between them. If this were true, then each planet's orbit should take a shape like a football. In August 1684, he visited Newton at Cambridge with the question of 'what kind of curve would be described by the planets supposing the force of attraction towards the sun to be reciprocal to the square of their distance from it?' but hardly knew what to expect. Halley had no idea at all that the question would lead to what many consider the greatest work of science ever written.

Halley vs. Newton, a gifted, adventuresome, generous, and sweet scientist vs. a cold, solitary, austere and absent-minded professor, yet they became colleagues. Newton recognized that gravity on Earth represented the same law of force as that affecting the motion of planets around the Sun. Halley edited the manuscript and arranged financing for publication in 1687 of Newton's great book 'The Mathematical principles of Natural Philosophy'. Halley's encouragement of Newton was perhaps his greatest contribution to science. In applying Newton's laws of gravitation in making his comet prediction, Halley went an important step further. His correct prediction turned out to the first direct confirmation of Newton's theories.

'Halley and Newton ─ from Dark to Light' stage drama presented by the National Museum of Natural Science in partnership with Graduate Institute of Astrophysics, NTU leads audiences to explore the astrophysics history of turning the universe inside-out while enjoying the music and scenery.

'Halley and Newton ─ from Dark to Light' stage drama is presented by the National Museum of Natural Science in partnership with Graduate Institute of Astrophysics, NTU, and supervised by Ministry of Education, ROC and Taichung City Government. Additional support is generously provided by Education Bureau of Taichung City Government, Cultural Affairs Bureau of Taichung City Government and Culture & Education Foundation of NMNS. Major funding has been provided by Entrepreneur Club, Trend Foundation, Fubon Foundation, and DELTA Electronics Foundation.