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Merry Newtonmas


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Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;

God said, 'Let Newton be' and all was light.

Alexander Pope

 

Few people except numismatists know him to have been the Warden and Master of the British Royal Mint. As Warden, he had himself sworn as a justice of the peace so that he could conduct investigations. In disguise, he pursued counterfeiters in pubs and taverns.

 

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist by Thomas Levenson (Boston;New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. 336 pp. $25)

 

Craig, Sir John. Newton at the Mint. Cambridge: University Press, 1946.

Craig, Sit John. “Isaac Newton - Crime Investigator,” Nature 182, (19 July 1958), pages 149-152.

Craig, Sir John. "Isaac Newton and the Counterfeiters." Notes and Records of the Royal Society (18;2), London: 1963, pages 136-145.

 

MERRY NEWTONMAS TO YOU!

Michael

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Thanks, Art. Easily said, Levenson teaches science journalism at MIT and won Peabody Awards for this PBS documentaries, so his book tells the story well. Checking CoinPeople, I see that Dave first mentioned it in Books here. I dropped a line in the Holidays topic in the Writers Forum here.

 

If you want to collect Newtonia, there is the 1-pound UK banknote from the early 1980s, and a series of "Conder" tokens from 1792 from Middlesex. As Master of the Mint, he approved the contract for Woods Hibernia tokens which circulated in the American colonies. Of course, there are always the pence, shillings, etc., of the UK during his tenure at the Mint, 1695-1727.

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Why shouldn't we commemorate a man who is quite possibly the greatest genius who ever lived?

Especially as, by the Julian calendar still in use at that time, he was born on Christmas Day 1642. Now of course, using the Gregorian calendar(not adopted in England till 1752), we give his birth as 4 January 1643.

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I guess we can have two parties then.

 

As a matter of trivia, George Washington's birth certificate, if such a document had existed back then in "the colonies" would have read February 11, 1731. (Old Style.) When he was 20 and the calendar changed happened, he began to celebrate his birthday on the 22nd in order to preserve the actual day (almost precisely a month before the vernal equinox). But wait, wasn't Washington born in 1732? Well, yes, under the NEW calendar. The Old Style new year began on March 25th!

 

Back to Newton:

 

It's typical in the British Isles to keep the old style date for events before 1752, so they'd commemorate Newton's birth on December 25, even though it's January 4 of the next year by the Gregorian calendar.

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Alaska did not adopt the Gregorian calendar till Friday, 6th October 1867, which was followed, the very next day, by Friday the 18th. Two Fridays in the same week, because the international date line was shifted, & eleven missing days because of the calendar switch, due of course to its purchase from Russia, then still using the Julian, by the USA. History is so much fun.

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I archived the draft of my November 2001 article for The Numismatist on my website here. My Newtonmas message is on my blog. There's a lot of numismatics to be done with Newton if you care to collect or exhibit. From Newton on the 1-pound note, you can branch out to other physicists, astronomers, and other scientists on world banknotes. You could do Newton versus Leibniz with coins from Saxony and Hanover.

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I archived the draft of my November 2001 article for The Numismatist on my website here. My Newtonmas message is on my blog. There's a lot of numismatics to be done with Newton if you care to collect or exhibit. From Newton on the 1-pound note, you can branch out to other physicists, astronomers, and other scientists on world banknotes. You could do Newton versus Leibniz with coins from Saxony and Hanover.

 

I have a Gauss note from Switzerland. IIRC it even shows a plot of the Gaussian distribution. Tres geeky!

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Why shouldn't we commemorate a man who is quite possibly the greatest genius who ever lived?

 

I believe that honor goes to Imhotep. Egyptology translates his title

as Chief of Seers but it's really Chief of Observers in all probability.

There was no mysticism involved in building the great pyramids. It was

pure science and it is we who are superstitious.

 

Ironically Newton translated the Emerald Tablets of Hermes and studied

the Great Pyramid looking for secrets and I believe he just missed finding

a corrolary to Newton's third law of motion in;

 

8) It ascends from ye earth to ye heaven again it desends to ye earth and receives ye force of things superior inferior.

 

If he were a better translator I believe he'd have seen the principle of

the transformation of potential energy to kinetic.

 

8) With great capacity it ascends from earth to heaven. Again it descends to earth, and takes back the power of the above and the below.

 

http://www.the-book-of-thoth.com/content-157.html

 

Imhotep means "I come in peace" and "mass" is a dismissal of a congregation.

 

Some might consider a million tons to be a mass as well.

 

So, maybe Imhotepmas sortta works. ;)

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