How to think like Isaac NewtonPresentation Transcript
How to think like Isaac Newton Damian Gordon
Isaac Newton Born 4 January 1643 Died 31 March 1727 Born in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth Lincolnshire An English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian.
Seven Principles The Plague Secretiveness Antagonism Bad teaching Dot notation Occult studies Mercury poisoning
The Plague Both in 1665 and in 1666 Newton’s College, Trinity, was dismissed on account of the Great Plague of London. During those two years many of his later discoveries were first developed.
The Plague EXERCISE Try to get a sample of the original Great Plague and find some rats to infect with it. If you can’t shut down your college in this way, think of other interesting ways to close down your college for two years – maybe bicycle lock all of the doors?
Secretiveness Newton was notoriously secretive, he didn’t want to publish his findings for fear of criticism. As a consequence he accused other people of plagiarism when they published ideas that he had also thought of. Perhaps the most famous of these cases were his disputes with Leibniz over calculus. Gottfried Leibniz
Secretiveness EXERCISE I have three really excellent exercises to improve your secretiveness I’m not going to tell you. ?
Antagonism Newton started feuds with other scientists on a regular basis, and these feuds lasted for years. His antagonism towards Robert Hooke was legendary, they fought over credit for work on gravitation, the planets and to a lesser degree light. Robert Hooke
Antagonism EXERCISE If there is anyone you know who you even remotely dislike, try to foster and grow your antagonism. Draw caricatures of the person and leave them around. Start a flame war with them. Accuse them of plagiarism. Make yourself more angry by wearing shoes that are too tight and rubbing peppers in your face.
Bad teaching When Newton was elected Lucasian professor on 1670, it was his duty as professor to lecture regularly. The subject which Newton chose for his lectures was optics. These lectures did little to expand his reputation, as they were remarkably sparsely attended; frequently leaving Newton to lecture to empty classrooms.
Bad teaching EXERCISE When you are teaching try to keep your voice at a monotone. Try to use obscure terminology where possible. Tell anecdotes that are totally irrelevant. Make sure this is no coherent structure to your lectures, you can do this by taking two existing lectures that are unrelated and mix the notes together. Don’t practice or prepare in any way.
Dot notation Newton's notation for differentiation, or dot notation, uses a dot placed over a function name to denote the time derivative of that function. Newton referred to this as a fluxion. Dot notation is not very useful for higher-order derivatives.
Dot notation EXERCISE Try to develop your own notation that is both inconvenient and cumbersome. Make sure you are inconsistent in your usage of it, but at the same time insist that everyone else uses it.
Occult Studies In his book “Hypothesis of Light” of 1675, Newton posited the existence of the ether to transmit forces between particles. He later replaced the ether with occult forces based on Hermetic ideas of attraction and repulsion between particles. John Maynard Keynes, who acquired many of Newton's writings on alchemy, stated that "Newton was not the first of the age of reason: He was the last of the magicians."
Occult Studies EXERCISE Study the daftest elements of the occult, suggest that everything is caused by ether or magic. Spend years decoding bad alchemists secret codes and discover that there is no useful information to be gained.
Mercury poisoning After his death, Newton's body was discovered to have had massive amounts of mercury in it, probably resulting from his alchemical pursuits. Mercury poisoning could explain Newton's eccentricity in late life.
Mercury poisoning Try to get as much mercury into your body as possible, it’ll drive you mad. Think of a range of ways of ingesting and absorbing it. Add it to your breakfast, fill a bathtub with it, add it to your tea.
In Summary The Plague Secretiveness Antagonism Bad teaching Dot notation Occult studies Mercury poisoning
NOTE This presentation is not serious, but Michael J. Gelb’s excellent book “How to think like Leonardo da Vinci” is a really great and worth getting a copy of.