Monday, January 18, 2010

HoS Micropost: Newton and the Apple (redux)

Posted by Darin Hayton on 01/18 at 08:03 AM

Isaac Newton and his apple are getting a lot of press time suddenly. The Guardian has just published an article about it: “Isaac Newton’s falling apple tale drops into the web.” The attention has been prompted by the Royal Society’s having recently made the original version of the story available on their website.

“Keith Moore, the Royal Society’s head of library and archives, said: ‘Scholars know where the apple story comes from, and clearly it’s an anecdote Newton polished. What we want is for the public to see the manuscript itself. It wasn’t just Newton that polished it, succeeding generations put a gloss on it as well – that story just humanises him just a little bit.’”

The Royal Society has recently added a Turning the Pages™ section to the website (the British Library has long used this technology) to make it possible for users to, well, turn the pages of a manuscript or book from the collection. Or, as the Royal Society puts it:

Welcome to our gallery of Turning the Pages™ presentations - high-quality digital facsimiles of manuscripts which replicate the physical experience of reading the original works as closely as possible.

Both the British Library and the Wellcome Library have their own Turning the Pages™ galleries:
British Library Turning the Pages™ gallery
Wellcome Library Turning the Pages™ gallery

Well, it certainly seems to be a Newton and his apple day in the British press. The New Scientist has also published a short article on the event: “ Newton’s apple: The real story.” If you have read one of these stories, you probably don’t need to read the others. Except for stylistic differences, they are largely the same.

Not to be left out, both the NY Times and Scientific American have articles on Newton’s apple and the Royal Society’s Turning the Pages™ publication of the Stukeley’s manuscript account of the event. The NY Times’s article is “Story of Newton’s Encounter With Apple Goes Online.” The Scientific American article is “What’s the real story with Newton and the apple? See for yourself.”

Not to be left out, BBC News offered their 290 words on Newton’s apple: “Newton’s Apple Story goes Online.” And finally, History Today has posted their own story on the apple: “The True Story of Newton’s Falling Apple.”

Tags: british library, isaac newton, manuscripts, on-line exhibitions, royal society, turning the pages, wellcome library