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Books Science

Newton's Apple Story Goes Online 114

Hugh Pickens writes "Although many historians are skeptical of the story, Rev. William Stukeley, a physician, cleric, and prominent antiquarian, wrote that he was once enjoying afternoon tea with Sir Isaac Newton amid the Woolsthorpe apple trees when the mathematician reminisced that he was just in the same situation as when the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. The original version of the story of Sir Isaac Newton and the falling apple first appeared in Stukeley's 1752 biography, Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life. Now BBC reports that UK's Royal Society has converted the fragile manuscript into an electronic book, which anybody with internet access will now be able to read and decide for themselves. 'The story of Newton and the apple, which had gradually become debunked over the years. It is now clear, it is based on a conversation between Newton and Stukeley,' says Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of the history of art at Oxford University's Trinity College. 'We needn't believe that the apple hit his head, but sitting in the orchard and seeing the apple fall triggered that work. It was a chance event that got him engaged with something he might have otherwise have shelved.'"
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Newton's Apple Story Goes Online

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  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:44PM (#30813020)

    Actually we do have evidence that the passengers of flight 93 tried to break into the cockpit, namely the flight recorders record the hijackers discussing the revolt.

    We don't know who may have been trying to break into the cockpit, only that there were signs of a struggle on the other side of the door. For all we know, the passengers could have been fighting amongst themselves. There's no way for anyone to know what really happened on the other side of that door. But every one of them, whether they did something or not, was declared a hero and there are plaques all over the country listing their names.

    This was my only point: It doesn't matter what they did, what matters is that the story of people fighting back displays a cultural value that we needed to reinforce after 9/11. We don't make people heroes because of what they do, we make them heroes because of what we need.

  • Re:Blogs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:00PM (#30813222)

    Blogs are roaming the earth yet best seller lists continue on. Go figure.

  • Re:Blogs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ultramk ( 470198 ) <[ten.llebcap] [ta] [kmartlu]> on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:48PM (#30813792)

    Right, because nobody [amazon.com] writes [amazon.com] about [amazon.com] stuff [w3.org] like [randomhouse.com] that [nap.edu] any [amazon.com] more. [amazon.com]

    Hey man, just cause you're not reading them, doesn't mean they aren't being written. You also seem to think that writing is a zero-sum game: that the more is blogged, the less is published in a more permanent fashion. It just ain't so: today's blog is often just a more sharable and immediate addition to lab notes. The phrase is still "publish or perish", not "post or perish".

  • by Gerafix ( 1028986 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:50PM (#30813806)
    Yeah, that's why you see all those darn greedy attention whoring scientists on American Idol.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:59PM (#30813932)

    You've got the story all wrong. While it's true that the hijackers, not the passengers, downed that flight, there's plenty of evidence (from the flight recorder and elsewhere) that they did it because the passengers were trying to retake the plane.

    And it's a good thing that people have their example, because passengers resisting the terrorists for fear of their lives is what has stopped every attempted terrorist after them. Sure, their bombs probably wouldn't work, but lucky for us, the passengers made sure they didn't have much time to work on them. That alone is far more helpful than all the crazy scanners and useless rules we've added since then.

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:22PM (#30814152) Journal

    It is a method of inquiry, it has certain things that are beyond question (axiomic), and it seeks to answer fundamental questions about the universe.

    So not at all like religion, which doesn't inquire, and doesnt answer those questions.

    It also believes in fairy tales like zombie cats in boxes, as a way of conveying values and knowledge of the world.

    There is no belief. Presumably you're referring to the thought experiment in quantum mechanics which is just that, a thought experiement. No one claims this cat in a box exists. And the claims about what might happen in that experiment are supported by overwhelming amounts of evidence.

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:37PM (#30814288) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I didn't resort to childish insults, but you alas you lack such maturity. Why would the hijackers make up something like that? For giggles? Why would they crash the plane before reaching their target? For kicks? By your standard of "proof" we cannot prove anything because there were not witnesses. There aren't witnesses to a lot of plane crashes and yet we can figure out what happened. Ditto for murders.

    By the way, you oh so conveniently switched your argument from the passengers as a group(and no evidence they staged a revolt other than a vague phone call), and I quote:

    United Airlines Flight 93: We have o objective proof of any kind that the passengers staged any kind of revolt, save a vague phone call.

    to an argument that says we cannot prove which passengers staged the revolt. Bravo! Bravo! You win the slashdot argument award, ie prove I'm right no matter how much I have to change my definition of right.

    Again, congrats on the name calling!

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