Thursday, December 17, 2015

The First Newtonmas

We commonly call the Nativity scene “the first Christmas” though it was not. The first Christ Mass could not have been celebrated before the Church existed. So, too, did the first Newtonmas not come until 248 years after his birth.

It seems that three students at Tokyo University started Newtonmas in their dormitory sometime before 1890.  As the undergraduates developed into graduates and assistants, their professors were drawn into the celebration, and a more suitable assembly hall was found in the University Observatory.  By 1890, they called themselves the Newtonkai  (Newton Association;  = kai = “all”) and moved to the Physical Laboratory. There, they played games symbolic of great mathematicians, physicists, and astronomers: Newton’s apple, Franklin’s kite, a naked doll for Archimedes … 

That story comes from “A New Sect of Hero-Worshippers” published in  Nature, Vol. 46, No. 1193, p. 459, 8 September 1892. It available from the publisher for $18 if you are not a member, or it can be found online at Google Books.


"Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said, 'Let Newton be' and all was light."
Alexander Pope

Newton's own copy of the the first edition of his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) with corrections in his own hand for the second edition, has been digitised and can be found following the link below. This is one of the first of the Wren's treasures which will be made available digitally over the next few months.  

"Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own, explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of comets, the tides of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no other scholar has previously imagined, the properties of the colours thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of nature, antiquity and the holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and good, and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race! He was born on 25th December 1642, and died on 20th March 1726".  -- http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/sir-isaac-newton
  • "Cambridge University Library holds the largest and most important collection of the scientific works of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Newton was closely associated with Cambridge. He came to the University as a student in 1661, graduating in 1665, and from 1669 to 1701 he held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics. Under the regulations for this Chair, Newton was required to deposit copies of his lectures in the University Library. These, and some correspondence relating to the University, were assigned the classmarks Dd.4.18, Dd.9.46, Dd.9.67, Dd.9.68, and Mm.6.50.  […]
  • A number of videos explaining aspects of Newton's work and manuscripts are available from the NewtonProject's YouTube site, a selection of which are presented alongside our manuscripts."  -- http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/newton 


"The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences is an international research institute running a series of visitor programmes across the spectrum of the mathematical sciences. Established in 1992, the 350th anniversary of Newton's birth, INI has no direct historical links with Newton, but was named after him because of his great achievements in the fields of mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy. INI continues in this tradition of crossing the boundaries between scientific disciplines" -- http://www.newton.ac.uk/

The Isaac Newton Trust was established in 1988 by Trinity College. The objects of the Trust are to promote learning, research and education in the University of Cambridge. The Trust makes grants for research purposes within Cambridge University, it founded and contributes financially to the undergraduate Bursary Scheme, and it offers a number of other funding opportunities for the University and its constituent Colleges.” 

A Bibliography of Sources

Berlinski, David. Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World. New York: Free Press, Simon and Schuster, 2000.
Craig, Sir John. Newton at the Mint. Cambridge: University Press, 1946.
Craig, Sir John. "Isaac Newton and the Counterfeiters."  Notes and Records of the Royal Society (18), London: 1963. 
Craig, Sir John. “Isaac Newton - Crime Investigator,” Nature 182, (19 July 1958), pages 149-152.
Keynes, Milo. “The Personality of Isaac Newton,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society (49), London: The Royal Society, 1995.
Levenson, Thomas. Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist (Boston;New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. 336 pp. $25
Marotta, Michael. “Merry Newtonmas,” Newsgroups: rec.collecting.coins, Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 11:49:41 GMT
Marotta, Michael. “Sir Isaac Newton: Warden and Master of the Mint,” The Numismatist, Vol. 114, no. 11 (November 2001), p. 1302-1308, 1363 : ill., port.
Newman, E. G. V. "The Gold Metallurgy of Isaac Newton." The Gold Bulletin, Vol 8. No. 3, London: The World Gold Council, 1975.
Westfall, Richard S. Never at Rest: a Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
White, Michael. Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer. Reading, Mass.: Helix Books, Perseus Books, 1997.
www.experiencefestival.com/newtonmas
www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/, The Newton Project, Professor Rob Iliffe Director, University of Sussex, East Sussex - BN1 9SH
www.royalmint.com/museum/newton Web site pages of the British Royal Mint.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

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