Xiaona Wang: Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-20)

Dr Xiaona Wang holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. The title of her postdoctoral research is 'Francis Bacon on attractio and gravitas: Sources, Context, and Later Influence'.


Francis Bacon was one of the first thinkers in England to suggest that gravity was an attractive force capable of acting at a distance—a notion of gravity that achieved its most influential form in Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687). In the Medieval scholastic tradition, and in the new mechanical philosophies of the early seventeenth century, gravity was never seen as an attractive force, but Bacon initiated an alternative tradition in English natural philosophy which culminated in Newton’s universal principle of gravitation. Bacon’s important role in the development of the idea of gravity as an attractive force has not previously been recognised and the aim of my project is to provide the first scholarly account of his innovations in this area. Additionally, it will consider likely sources for Bacon’s ideas in Renaissance debates about the nature of matter, and show how these ideas were taken up by subsequent generations of English thinkers.