Skip to comments.True or false? Ten myths about Isaac Newton
Posted on 07/12/2014 11:14:54 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Nearly three hundred years since his death, Isaac Newton is as much a myth as a man. The mythical Newton abounds in contradictions; he is a semi-divine genius and a mad alchemist, a somber and solitary thinker and a passionate religious heretic.
Myths usually have an element of truth to them but how many Newtonian varieties are true? Here are ten of the most common, debunked or confirmed by the evidence of his own private papers, kept hidden for centuries and now freely available online.
10. Newton was a heretic who had to keep his religious beliefs secret.
True. While Newton regularly attended chapel, he abstained from taking holy orders at Trinity College. No official excuse survives, but numerous theological treatises he left make perfectly clear why he refused to become an ordained clergyman, as College fellows were normally obliged to do. Newton believed that the doctrine of the Trinity, in which the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost were given equal status, was the result of centuries of corruption of the original Christian message and therefore false. Trinity Colleges most famous fellow was, in fact, an anti-Trinitarian.
9. Newton never laughed.
False, but only just. There are only two specific instances that we know of when the great man laughed. One was when a friend to whom he had lent a volume of Euclids Elements asked what the point of it was, upon which Sir Isaac was very merry. (The point being that if you have to ask what the point of Euclid is, you have already missed it.) So far, so moderately funny. The second time Newton laughed was during a conversation about his theory that comets inevitably crash into the stars around which they orbit.
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When he was head of the mint, Newton invented the use of notched edges on the rim of coins, to keep people from shaving off the gold and silver, making it easily detectable.
Well, Newton was also a Creationist.
3. Newton believed the earth was created in seven days.
True. Newton believed that the Earth was created in seven days, but he assumed that the duration of one revolution of the planet at the beginning of time was much slower than it is today.
That was good too, about the slower rotation.
Here’s three more myth’s:
1. He invented gravity.
2. He baked the first fig bar.
3. He was Olivia’s father before she married John.
Interestingly though, her maternal grandfather was Nobel Prize-winning atomic physicist Max Born.
He baked the first fig bar....He didn’t?
“That was good too, about the slower rotation.”
Actually, the earths rotation is SLOWING ...
That’s actually my own view of Creation. I also believe that evolution, though still not fully understood, was His means of creating life. Both Genesis and the theory of evolution correctly state that man was created out of dirt.
Sheldon: I understand. You dispute Newtons claim that he invented calculus and you want to put Gottfried Leibniz on the top.
Leonard: Yeah, you got me. Im a Leibniz man.
5. Newton found secret numerological codes in the Bible.This shows that Newton believed that he had found numerological codes in the Bible, not that he actually did so; the writer poses the latter question and answers the former.
True. Like his fellow analysts of scripture, Newton believed there were important meanings attached to the numbers found there. In one theological treatise, Newton argues that the Pope is the anti-Christ based in part on the appearance in Scripture of the number of the name of the beast, 666. In another, he expounds on the meaning of the number 7, which figures prominently in the numbers of trumpets, vials and thunders found in Revelation.
So that would go the other way — faster in the past. Hmmm...
The theory of evolution does not postulate that man “was created out of dirt” - it has nothing to say at all about how life came into existence, and does not agree that man came into being “from dirt”, but states that man developed from the lower animals.
The first fig bar was baked by his brother Nabisco, hence the start of the myth about Isaac
I like his Three Laws of Robotics.
IF it’s a myth that he dabbled in alchemy then it’s a pretty enduring myth.
Anyways, I don't think I've seen any conclusive data that shows he was a heretic -- just oft repeated suspicions.
That was the original hypothesis, which has since been expanded. The model now proposes that life originated in a mix of water and dirt, the “primordial soup”, and everything else followed from the simple organisms that emerged. I was mistaken by using the term “created”; “originated” is more accurate.
The true science makes no mention of whether life originated randomly or by design; that notion was cooked up by “scientists” with a political agenda. Randomness v. Design cannot be resolve by scientific means and anybody who claims otherwise, from either side of the debate, is being disingenuous.
Finally, the theory of evolution is a theory, nothing more and nothing less. It is a model of what could (even likely) have happened based on the available facts. It changes as new facts emerge, just like any other theory. It can point to how things probably occurred and its primary value is the ability to apply its principles to some practical purpose, such as the selective breeding of livestock or the genetic modification of crops.
IF its a myth that he dabbled in alchemy then its a pretty enduring myth.
Newton treated alchemy as a science and treated it with the same seriousness he used for mathematics.
At the time, alchemy was a respectable art and pretty much the primitive ancestor of what we call modern day chemistry.
In fact, alchemy slowly evolved into what is now modern day chemistry as we learned the physical science underpinnings of molecular composition and behavior of chemical reactions which allowed us to predict what was and was not possible in the world of alchemy.
In fact, Newton’s invention of calculus did much to advance alchemy into the physical science of chemistry
BTW, with modern knowledge it really is possible to transmute lead into gold, it’s just not very economical.
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