Newton and the apple: The original story


If you like biographies of great scientists and are intrigued by the challenge of parsing the baroque handwriting and spelling of 18th century English, today is your lucky day. The Royal Society has posted William Stukeley's handwritten 1752 manuscript for The Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life online. Even if you end up deciding to read the entire thing in a more legible typeface, the chance to see the original for free is pretty nifty.

The book includes Stukeley's account—as told to him by Newton—of the famous falling-apple-and-the-discovery-of-gravity story, which Scientific American says may not have been as apocryphal as its often made out to be.

"After dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank thea [sic], under the shade of some apple trees," Stukeley wrote. "[H]e told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself..."

Scientific American: Observations: What's the real story with Newton and the apple? See for yourself

Image courtesy Flickr user striatic, via CC