Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to Sir Isaac Newton, born on December 25th 1642 (Julian calendar) in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth in the county of Lincolnshire in England, only a few miles from my own place of birth. Indeed Isaac and I went to the same school, The King's School in Grantham. Not at the same time I must point out.

By all accounts our Isaac was a bit of a weird old stick, a recluse, and given to feuding with some of the lesser geniuses of his time. But it probably wasn't an easy gig being the founder of classical physics. I mean, can you imagine just dreaming up mechanics and gravity and the nature of light
out of thin air, and by the way inventing calculus on the side to help you do the math? Enough to make anyone a bit eccentric. Or perhaps it was sniffing all those mercury fumes when he was dabbling in alchemy? On the other hand, he was a solid enough chap that he was later put in charge of the Royal Mint, improving the coinage and hanging those dastardly counterfeiters.

Sadly his birthday is not as widely celebrated as it should be. After all this guy was arguably the greatest scientist of all time. Just his luck to be born on the day that the followers of Baby Jesus arbitrarily (and almost certainly incorrectly) chose as the day to mark aforementioned baby's birth, and then one thing led to another until the whole Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho thing gave an excuse to those bastards at Jordans Furniture to run a TV ad yesterday afternoon informing my wife that if we had only bought those leather chairs that she was coveting a few weeks back they would also have given her a free Blu-Ray Player for Baby Jesus Day. Damn them. What's a free Blu-Ray Player got to do with Baby Jesus?

Where was I? Where am I? Oh yes, Merry Newton Day.

Thanks to Olivia Judson for filling us in on some of the facts about Newton in The Ten Days of Newton on her blog The Wild Side. And if you care to celebrate my old schoolmate's birthday today, Ms Judson offers this song...

On the tenth day of Newton
My true love gave to me
Ten drops of genius
Nine silver co-oins
Eight circling planets
Seven shades of li-ight
Six counterfeiters
Four telescopes
Three Laws of Motion,
Two awful feuds
And the discovery of gravity!




Carol Anne said...

I love it! Having grown up in a community full of scientists and various other sorts of oddballs, I always appreciate this sort of humor.

O Docker said...

Gravity, motion laws, and that other stuff are all good - well maybe except for calculus - but Newton is most famous for those cookies he invented.

Tillerman said...

O Docker. My granddaughter would agree. Fig Newtons are her favorite treat.

Greg and Kris said...

So, let me get this straight, wear their favorite color shirt, serve'em fig newtons, and don't tip the dinghy over on their first sail.

Got it.

Pat said...

Yep, Carol Anne grew up in a place where the bumper stickers read,
"300,000 km/sec -- it's the law"

Carol Anne said...

Actually, the bumper stickers read, "299,792,458 m/s -- it's not just a good idea; it's the law."

Tillerman said...

Carol Anne grew up in a vacuum?

O Docker said...

I think 'rarefied atmosphere' is a nicer way to put it.

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