Newton’s Apple Story Published Online

January 18, 2010

The PhysOrg.com Web site has an article about the publication, by the Royal Society, of what seems to be the original story of Sir Isaac Newton and the apple.  (The Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the oldest scientific society in the English-speaking world, and is celebrating its 350th year.)  The famous incident apparently occurred in the mid-1660s, at a time when Newton had returned to his family home in the north of England, owing to the closing of the University of Cambridge because of the plague.  The story was recorded by William Stukeley, a contemporary of Newton’s, a number of years later when the two were having tea.

Stukeley’s manuscript recounts a spring afternoon in 1726 when the famous scientist shared the story over tea “under the shade of some apple trees.”

Stukeley wrote that Newton told him the notion of gravity popped into the scientist’s mind as he was sitting in the same situation.

The Royal Society has put a facsimile of the fragile original document on its Web site, and visitors can, virtually, browse through the manuscript. I’ve often wondered if the story recounted an actual event; it’s kind of fun to find out that it does have some basis in fact.

As part of its anniversary celebration, the Society is making a number of its historically important papers available online.  In addition to the site above, more material is available at the Trailblazing site, including Newton’s 1672 theory of light and colour, and Ben Franklin’s 1752 report of flying a kite in a thunderstorm.


France Also Recommends Avoiding IE

January 18, 2010

In a post about the latest Internet Explorer vulnerability on Saturday, I mentioned that an agency of the German Federal government had published a recommendation that people avoid using IE, at least until Microsoft issues a patch.  Now an agency of the French government, S G D N Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d’information [National Agency for Information Systems Security], has published a very similar recommendation.  In addition to recommending the use of an alternative browser, the advisory also recommends browsing with a limited privilege account, and with executable content (such as JavaScript or ActiveX) disabled.  All very good advice.

Residents of the Redmond WA area should be especially careful in case of low-flying office furniture in the vicinity of the Microsoft campus.


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