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Rizzetti, Giovanni, 1675-1751 (natural philosopher)



  • Existence: 1675 - 1751


Giovanni Rizzetti (1675-1751), Italian scientist, was a fierce critic of Sir Isaac Newton's optical theories. While the French edition of Newton's Opticks was in preparation, Rizzetti challenged some of Newton's experiments, his interpretation of them, and his theory of colours. Rizzetti repeated his challenge in a letter to Christino [sic] Martinelli. Newton suspected that an opponent, Antonio Schinella Conti had instigated Rizzetti's challenge.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:


Copy of a letter from Giovanni Rizzetti to the Royal Society, c 1880

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.4007.67: 796-810
Scope and Contents From the Fonds:

The Portsmouth Collection is the principal collection of Isaac Newton's scientific and mathematical papers, including early drafts of the Principia, and his correspondence with Oldenburg, Halley Flamsteed and many of the other most prominent scientists of his day.

Dates: c 1880
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unlike the rest of the collection, Add. 4007 has not been microfilmed, and is therefore available on request to those eligible to view manuscripts in the manuscripts reading room.

Giovanni Rizzetti: Challenge to Newton's Optical Experiments

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9282
Scope and Contents

The volume contains a draft letter from Rizzetti to Christino Martinelli, c.1720, with a description of Newton's experiment leading to the discovery of the aberration of light, and Rizzetti's experiment contradicting Newton's results; and two diagrams on refraction (p.13), the 'Anatomical composition of the eye' and the 'Aberration in telescopes with different lenses'. There are references to Descartes, Huygens and Tschirnhaus.

Dates: 1720 (Circa)
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

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