Newton Again

I do indeed enjoy hearing anything about Sir Isaac Newton, from alchemy to astronomy (actually that only covers a small chunk of the A section).

And for those of you who meet me in meatspace, you might well want to talk about Neal Stephensons’ Baroque Cycle, which has Newton as a main character – sure it’s fictional, and there’s a fun list of deviations from real history in the books – but until recently I had no idea that Newton actually went after counterfeiters in his job as Warden of the Mint.

Note: You can also borrow any of the books from the Baroque Cycle from the Skeptics Library.

There is a good video of a lecture about this from MIT WORLD, and Levenson highlights an interesting aspect of the Scientific Revolution, that it quickly worked down to the “street level;” counterfeiters, gentleman meteorologists, and craftsmen of all stripes. It wasn’t just the actions of scientific giants, but of an entire cadre of people networked by cheap paper and presses, and the revolutionary invention of standardized measurements.

It’s a good lecture, and hopefully the book will be available in the library before long.


One response to “Newton Again

  1. if i can interrupt your bromance with sir isaac for a moment

    of course “anyone” can do science but it takes a select kind of person to do it well. this is what separates the kooks from the newtons and the chopras from the einsteins.

    weve come a long way from his work. however the progress of science is riddled with the corpses of theories past. dont turn this into a bible study here or a remembrance of the holy martyrs (he does weddings!).

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