January 4, 2013
Plato is my friend – Aristotle is my friend – but my greatest friend is truth!
(Sir Isaac Newton)
Apples are good for your health. Everybody knows that. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” was the very first task I had to learn by heart in my early English lessons. But when it comes to Sir Isaac Newton, the apple isn’t simply a nutritive, vitamine-rich fruit. It is the fruit of knowledge.
Of course all of you know the wonderful anecdote about the apple that hurt Newton’s head (famously celebrated by Google with a sweet doodle in 2010) and brought him to the development of the Universal law of gravity (read more about it here). But there is much more about him.
Newton was a man with a broad knowledge and almost limitless interests. His achievements were not only on the field of science, as in mathematics, theoretical physics, mechanics and optics. He was also very interested in philosophy, alchemy and even religion and theology, and wrote about it. For 3oo years his religious and alchemistic works weren’t accessible to the public, all the more I was happy when I got to know that they are now digitized and open for everybody through the wonderful Newton Project (You MUST check out this fantastic website!) It is awesome to see him from a totally different site. His writings are both fascinating and touching, as this list of his sins from 1662 shows.
Today is the 370th birthday of this brilliant mind and true renaissance character, and I invite you to celebrate it with a real treat: A few photos from a 1st edition of Newton’s “Geographia generalis”, published in 1672. I can’t thank my very dear friend @thesonofstig on Twitter enough for sharing this with me and allowing me to use the pictures he sent me for this post.
Read about Newton’s mathematical work on the calculus here.
Don’t remember the three laws of motion? Here you are! Let a dog show you how they work;-)
Get to know about Newton’s optics works, his prism experiment and the telescope he built in the article “Newton and the colour of light“.
Learn about the Newton Project in an article from the NYT.
Besides the Newton Project website, the Cambridge Digital Library holds a lot of resources about Newton as well.
Here’s also a review of my favourite biography of Newton.
And, last but not least, a wonderfully written article about newer developments in the research on gravity, “What is gravity, really?“
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
(Sir Isaac Newton)