10 Dec 2018

Beyond the Apple

Nicholas Kollerstrom. The Dark Side of Isaac Newton. Pen and Sword. (6 December)
Isaac Newton was accorded a semi-divine status in the 18th and 19th centuries, whereby his image linked together religion and science. The real human being behind the demi-god image has tended to be lost. He was a person who took credit from others, and crushed the reputations of those to whom he owed most. This most brilliant of mathematicians could alas be devious, deceptive and duplicitous. This work doesn't go looking at unpublished alchemical musings as is nowadays fashionable, rather it sticks to the historical record. At the time when the new science was born, we scrutinise the way he failed to discover the law of gravity or invent calculus. What exactly did Leibniz mean by describing him as 'a mind neither fair nor honest'? Why did Robert Hooke describe him as 'the veriest knave in all the house' and why was the astronomer Flamsteed calling him SIN (Sir Isaac Newton)?

We are here concerned to give him credit for what he did discover, which may not be quite what you had been told. This book redefines the genius of Isaac Newton, but without the heavily mythologised baggage of a bygone era. He believed in one God, one law and one bank.