Isaac Newton’s Twitter Storm

Isaac stormed out of his house and into his garden, he was absolutely fuming, volcanic even. How dare they, how dare those midget brains criticise him, how dare they suggest he hadn’t invented and developed calculus, how dare they suggest someone else had beaten him to it. If it had been suggested that the crookback Robert Hooke had invented it first he could have demolished him face to face in a single afternoon at the Royal Society. But no, this was that upstart aristocrat Gottfreid Leibnitz hiding away in some chateau in Prussia, sipping his Rhenish wine with his sycophant Queen Sophie Charlotte of Prussia fawning on his every word. Isaac’s friend Edmund Halley had just ridden from London to Woolsthorpe to continue trying to persuade him to publish his work so far on his mathematical proof about the existence of the forces of gravity. He was certain it operated to what he called The Inverse Square Law, but he needed more practical evidence. Edmund told him that Gottfried Leibnitz was working on something similar and was starting to boast across the elite circles of Europe that he had developed a mathematical method called Calculus. That was what caused Isaac Newton, the acknowledged genius of his time, to erupt and in turn causing Edmund to beat a hasty retreat and gallop back to London.

Woolsthorpe Manor, Isaac Newton’s house.

As Isaac stomped around his garden he pondered Edmunds words ….. Chirper, Nebbscript, Followers, Influencers ….. ? What the hell was all this stuff? Leibnitz was chirping messages across Europe to his followers as well as distributing sketches and portraits of himself writing mathematical formulae using Nebbscript. Apparently he was using Queen Sophie Charlotte as an influencer (whatever that was) to “achieve more reach on social media”, whatever that meant. Edmund had advised him to fight back, chirping his own messages and using the King to spread the word on Nebbscript …….. but why should he, the greatest natural philosopher of all time, debase himself with such trivialities?

Isaac sat on the grass under his old apple tree, it had been but a sapling planted by his father when he was a lad but now it was full of red fruit just waiting to be plucked. Slowly his anger started to subside, his rational mind took over and before long he had considered 27 different options for countering Leibnitz’s claims, and it was at this moment an apple fell from the tree, bounced off his head and onto the grass beside him. It was a seminal moment in the history of the world! Isaac stared at it and pondered for the first time why apples fell to the ground rather than waiting to be picked. In an instant he had it …….. apples were sentient and had free will, they chose when to leave the tree, and this one that had landed on his bonce was simply impatient! Patience was the key to combating these offensive claims of Leibniz, he wouldn’t fight back with his counter claims, he wouldn’t get involved in a spat on Chirper or Nebbscript, he wouldn’t grovel and apologise for causing offence like poor old Galileo. He wouldn’t write up his mathematical principles and three laws, and wouldn’t publish any of it. If others wanted to deny his laws of motion and gravity then so be it; they wouldn’t understand it anyway. He got up from the grass, bit a chunk of the apple that had fallen and went back inside ……….. and burned his notes!

{Isaac Newton’s spat with Gottfreid Leibniz was real. It was acrimonious too. Newton also fell out with Robert Hooke who had made claims that he had given Newton a number of ideas that led to the Inverse Square Law. These claims reinforced Isaacs introverted reclusive personality and led him into even deeper and more aggressive behaviours. He was a sensitive and jealous man too, and you may be surprised to learn that this spat with Leibniz actually DID delay him printing his great work Principia Mathematica for TEN years. Rather than publishing to reinforce his supremacy he hid it for fear of criticism and claims from his rivals. Thankfully for mankind however it was all revealed and published before his death. But what if a “Twitter and Facebook type of attack on him had removed his hypotheses and laws?}

Standing on the shoulders of Isaac Newton

Categories: Natural Philosophy

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6 replies

  1. I guess scientists, even the great ones, are people too, and have the usual emotions that we all do…


  2. I agree with drk-themroc and I loved the post. Could be almost true, certainly would be today and I’d be with Newton on this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mari, Isaac Newton has been my science hero since university. I’ve read lots about him including his experiment notebook. Did you know he was Master of the Royal Mint for a while and that I have a tenuous connection to him which you can read about from the link at the end of today’s post.


  3. Great article that hits the nail on the head. This is exactly how it still works in science: envy, resentment, jealousy, plagiarism, allegations of plagiarism and intrigue. And now there are screamers on social media too. (I hope google-translate translated that correctly)

    Liked by 1 person

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