I first learned about how crazy Sir Isaac Newton was from Bill Bryson’s amazing book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and I’ve loved him ever since. (On a side note, my boy Bill was soooo close to making the guest list, but he can also be hyper-critical in his books, and I don’t want that vibe at my party. Sorry, Bill.) Besides for the fact that Newton helped us to understand force and motion, he also had an insatiable curiosity that led him to do such crazy things as stick a needle in his eye. My third dinner guest would have to be Sir Isaac Newton:
The night would start like this,
“Wow, Sir Isaac Newton, what an honor! May I call you Isaac?”
“I prefer Newt. Hey what’s that?” he asks, pointing to my microwave.
OK, after the initial enjoyment of explaining all the recent technology to a genius wears off, the real fun would begin. Newton was a crazy MoFo. When he didn’t think math was comprehensive enough he invented calculus! Who does that? But since he thought it would be too boring a subject (that’s my interpretation), he kept it a secret for 27 years. He learned Hebrew because he thought he could decipher clues as to the second coming of Christ. He was obsessed with figuring out how to turn base metals into precious metals. I just imagine him staring at his fork during dinner, willing it to turn to gold. It would give Louie CK a lot of great material.
Here’s a passage from A Short History of Nearly Everything:
“Newton was a decidedly off figure – brilliant beyond measure, but solitary, joyless, prickly to the point of paranoia, famously distracted (upon swinging his feet out of bed in the morning he would reportedly sometimes sit for hours, immobilized by the sudden rush of thoughts to his head), and capable of the most riveting strangeness… Once he inserted a bodkin- a long needle of the sort used for sewing leather – into his eye socket and rubbed it around “betwixt my eye and the bone as near to [the] backside of my eye as I could” just to see what would happen. What happened, miraculously, was nothing – at least nothing lasting. On another occasion, he stared at the Sun for as long as he could bear, to determine what effect it would have upon his vision. Again he escaped lasting damage, though he had to spend some days in a darkened room before his eyes forgave him.”
I’ve watched many things fall without having a single intelligent thought. Newton observes an apple falling and suddenly our whole world makes a lot more sense. We understand why things move or don’t move because of him and his three laws. He gave us the reflective microscope and the color and light theory. The least I could do is invite him over for dinner. I would serve him Turducken, baked apple and wine, and as I said before, he’ll sit next to Louie CK.
- Going Cold Turkey for Christmas (youngbyname.me)
- Gravity and the Laws of Attraction, Somewhat Revised (whybecausescience.wordpress.com)
- Isaac Newton’s birthday (humanisticpaganism.com)
- Newton and the Color Spectrum (fractaldesignbydee.wordpress.com)