Was Newton a scientist or a sorcerer?

I have a new story published on my Across the Universe blog over at The Guardian.

"Isaac Newton's belief in spirits and alchemy may have been essential to achieving his towering scientific achievement: gravity. A new science and arts festival begins this weekend to explore this complex man

Hot on the heels of Isaac Newton's apple appearing at the Paralympics comes a new celebration of his life and achievements. The Gravity Fields Festival begins on Friday in Grantham, Lincolnshire. For eight days, Newton's life and times will be commemorated by more than 100 events around the town, during what could become a biennial event.

Grantham lies close to Newton's birthplace, Woolsthorpe Manor, and contains the King's School, which the young Isaac attended. On Saturday at 3pm a blue plaque in his honour will be unveiled by the Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees.

Often wrongly portrayed as a cold rationalist, Isaac Newton is one of history's most compelling figures. It is true that he was capable of the most precise and logical thought it is possible for a human to achieve: his three years of obsessive work that gave birth to the Principia, containing his theory of gravity, stand as the greatest achievement in science.

Just as certainly, though, he was also consumed with what we would now view as completely unscientific pursuits: alchemy and biblical prophesy. ..."

Read the full story here.

I will be talking in the Angel & Royal at 12.15 on Thursday 27th. Details here.


Written on Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00 by Nicola Clark

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