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Isaac Newton and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Isaac Newton was, without a doubt, among the most brilliant men who ever walked the earth. The story goes such. One day, Newton was sitting under an apple tree, and saw an apple fall to the ground. He then asked the question, “does the moon fall too? This profound question – and its answer- would set off a revolution in science and engineering that continues to this day. In doing so, Isaac Newton invented an entirely new form of mathematics called calculus. Not bad for a man in his 20s.

In his book “Principia Mathematica”, published in 1687, Isaac Newton presented his ideas to the world. The moon does fall. It just is moving sideways with a fast enough speed that it falls around the earth. In order to explain how this works, Newton proposed the following thought experiment. One could imagine a cannon. If a cannonball is fired at a certain speed, it will fly forward a certain distance before falling to the ground. If the cannonball is fired faster, it will go farther before falling. As the earth is round, Newton reasoned, there must be a speed at which the cannonball can be fired that it will fall around the curvature of the earth, thus remain in orbit indefinitely. This is the same way, he realized, that the moon stays in orbit of the earth and all the planets in orbit of the sun. He was able to calculate these speeds and orbits using his calculus- the mathematics of motion. One might think that that is a hearty career for a scientist, but Newton was a special man. He also contributed to mankind’s understanding of optics, and is largely responsible to working out the colors of the rainbow.

Despite his staggering achievements in the field of science, Isaac Newton devoted a significant portion of his time to pursuits that were decidedly non-scientific. He believed in the occult and spent much time contemplating the apocalypse. Other studies in psuedosciences included the fields of astrology and, most famously, alchemy. He was known to deeply study the bible and was religious. It is quite strange that a man with such a capacity to question his surroundings and study based on observation could be involved in such strange practices. That is the paradox that is Isaac Newton.newton

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