Newton’s papers: another step towards the digital museum

Isaac Newton

4000 pages of Isaac Newton’s journals have been made available in digital form by the University of Cambridge. While the interface could be a bit friendlier and more familiar, this is an amazing step in to the creation of a true digital museum.

For the first time people from around the world have access to an incredible artifact, one that can not be enjoyed in a traditional museum. Books, journals and notebooks are displayed in museums within cases due to their delicate nature, this leaves the object inert, and robs it of a huge part of its value. A book that the user can not leaf through is not a book. By creating a digital copy, not only do we return part of its essence to the book, but we enrich the pool of knowledge. We allow people that until today had no access to it a closer look, and perhaps some scientists or historians will eventually make a discovery through it.

With this digital endeavor, the viewer can enjoy the whole object, get close to it, read it, and grasp its importance, its details. All these qualities are observed and maintained through this virtual exhibition. In the end the purpose of a museum is to get people closer to its collection, to teach about it; and in the case of books and other delicate objects sometimes the digital is better than the physical.

You can visit the Cambridge Digital Library right now and enjoy Newton’s journals by clicking here.

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