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Newton’s Apple Story Goes Online

January 18th, 2010 01:01 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Hugh Pickens writes “Although many historians are skeptical of the story, Rev. William Stukeley, a physician, cleric, and prominent antiquarian, wrote that he was once enjoying afternoon tea with Sir Isaac Newton amid the Woolsthorpe apple trees when the mathematician reminisced that he was just in the same situation as when the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. The original version of the story of Sir Isaac Newton and the falling apple first appeared in Stukeley’s 1752 biography, Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton’s Life. Now BBC reports that UK’s Royal Society has converted the fragile manuscript into an electronic book, which anybody with internet access will now be able to read and decide for themselves. ‘The story of Newton and the apple, which had gradually become debunked over the years. It is now clear, it is based on a conversation between Newton and Stukeley,’ says Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of the history of art at Oxford University’s Trinity College. ‘We needn’t believe that the apple hit his head, but sitting in the orchard and seeing the apple fall triggered that work. It was a chance event that got him engaged with something he might have otherwise have shelved.’”

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