Skip to comments.The Ten Days of Newton
Posted on 12/24/2008 11:56:25 AM PST by CE2949BB
Some years ago, the evolutionist and atheist Richard Dawkins pointed out to me that Sir Isaac Newton, the founder of modern physics and mathematics, and arguably the greatest scientist of all time, was born on Christmas Day, and that therefore Newtons Birthday could be an alternative, if somewhat nerdy, excuse for a winter holiday.
Think of the merchandise! Newton is said to have discovered the phenomenon of gravity by watching apples fall in an orchard. (His insight came after pondering why they always fall down, rather than upwards or sideways.) Newtons Birthday cards could feature the great man discovering gravity by watching a Christmas decoration fall from a tree. (This is a little anachronistic Christmas trees didnt come to England until later but I dont think we should let that get in the way.)
All very jolly but then, tis the season. Yet things are not so simple. It turns out that the date of Newtons birthday is a little contentious. Newton was born in England on Christmas Day 1642 according to the Julian calendar the calendar in use in England at the time. But by the 1640s, much of the rest of Europe was using the Gregorian calendar (the one in general use today); according to this calendar, Newton was born on Jan. 4, 1643.
Rather than bickering about whether Dec. 25 or Jan. 4 is the better date to observe Newtons Birthday, I think we should embrace the discrepancy and have an extended festival. After all, the festival of Christmas properly continues for a further 12 days, until the feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. So the festival of Newton could begin on Christmas Day and then continue for an extra 10 days, representing the interval between the calendars.
(Excerpt) Read more at judson.blogs.nytimes.com ...
Yes except that Sir Isaac Newton was a devout christian, and so would have nothing to do with such a stupid idea.
If I recall correctly, he wrote more on alchemy than he did mathematics and physics. What a waste.
Yes, he was a genius, and a Christian, so you would think Dawkins would get the hint.
You know, the coolest thing about this proposed holiday season would be going caroling at all the hospitals founded by atheists, and volunteering at all the soup kitchens founded by atheists.
Poor Dawkins...I guess he doesn’t realize he’s going to be fed to the Flying Spaghetti Monster on Judgment Day. And it hungers...it hungers greatly.
Wrong; the Christmas season lasts forty days, from December 25 to February 2, the feast of Candlemas.
“What a waste”
Only in retrospect. They did not understand atoms at the time.
Granted...he was a man of his time. Just imagine if he'd devoted his later life to real science, though.
Yes, but we’ve got plenty of scientists today who have never devoted themselves to real science.
You’re not insinuating that Newton would have bought into Globull Warming, are you?
Learn something new every day. :)
Newton discovered the binomial theorem, calculus, the laws of motion, universal gravitation, and the decomposition of light. Any of these discoveries would have made him famous forever. But instead we got all of this from just one man. And all of this before he reached the age of 40.
After this he left teaching at Cambridge and moved to London to become head of the Royal Mint. Perhaps that is why he started his study of alchemy. Alchemy was state of the art at that time. Newton was trying to turn lead into gold. Of course we know today that it is theoretically possible to change lead into gold by changing the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom, but the process would be prohibitively expensive. It is much cheaper to dig gold out of the ground.
Mathematics and classical physics got so much from this one man. Must we demand that he invent modern chemistry as well?
Newton has my vote for the greatest scientific genius in history. I recently saw a poll in which Newton received the most votes of modern scientists for that honor. However, I think Dawkin's proposal to substitute Newton's birthday for Christmas is very silly. But then atheists do often say very silly things.
Well, there aren't too many people devoting themselves to alchemy these days. Other pseudosciences such as astrology and UFO studies are flourishing, but I wouldn't call people who study such things "scientists"!
Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to diminish his accomplishments in the slightest. I was just speculating that had he not drifted off into studies of theology and the occult he may well have produced even more substantive work. As it is, I quite agree that he's the greatest scientist of all time.
Why do moderns demand so much from geniuses of the past?
"Just imagine" = "demand"?
We found something we can agree on. I hope we can also agree that Newton was a sloppy dresser. He often had crumbs in his uncombed wig.
Insufficient information, so I can neither agree nor disagree...although I do recall reading that Einstein didn't care for his appearance, either.
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