1687 – Isaac Newton publishes The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

The Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, or in English, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, is one of the foundational works of modern physics and mathematics.

In addition to being the first major treatise to seek to unify all mathematics since Euclid nearly 2000 years earlier, it built upon the works of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and Descartes (to name but a few). Famously, it introduced the laws of gravitation and motion, which formed the basis of classical mechanics for centuries thereafter.

Much of the Principia has stood the test of time fairly well – for the most part, it has been refined rather than replaced. Newton’s work remained supreme in mathematics until the 20th century, when relativity and quantum mechanics began to expose it limitations. And although Newton’s laws fail at these extremes, they are superb approximations at the scale of everyday life (in this case, defined as reaching from the smallest visible objects up to entire solar systems).

Referenced in:

History Lessens — Skyclad
Man on the Moon — R.E.M.