Isaac Newton in popular culture
Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, natural philosopher, theologian, alchemist and one of the most influential scientists in human history. His Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica is considered to be one of the most influential book in the history of science, laying the groundwork for most of classical mechanics by describing universal gravitation and the three laws of motion. In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of the differential and integral calculus.
Because of the resounding impact of his work, Newton became a scientific icon, much like Albert Einstein after his theory of relativity. Many books, plays, and films focus on Newton or use Newton as a literary device. Newton's stature among scientists remains at the very top rank, as demonstrated by a 2005 survey of scientists in Britain's Royal Society (formerly headed by Newton) asking who had the greater effect on the history of science, Newton or Albert Einstein. Newton was deemed the more influential. In 1999, leading physicists voted Albert Einstein "greatest physicist ever"; Newton was the runner-up.
- William Blake created a colour copper engraving entitled Newton, in 1795. The engraving would serve as the basis for bronze statue Newton, made in 1995 by the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi.
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said "Let Newton be" and all was light.
It could not last; the Devil shouting "Ho!
Let Einstein be!" restored the status quo.
And from my pillow, looking forth by light
Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.
- Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, William Blake
- A Poem Sacred to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, James Thomson
- The Movement of Bodies, Sheenagh Pugh
Books about Newton
- Maureen McNeil (2007). "Newton as a national hero". Feminist Cultural Studies of Science and Technology. Routledge. pp. 27–43. ISBN 978-0-415-44537-5.
- A. Bowdoin Van Ripper (2002). Science in Popular Culture. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-31822-1.
- Mordechai Feingold (2004). The Newtonian Moment: Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-517734-3.
Books featuring Newton as a character
- Newton and his alchemical experiments play a central role in the 2012 young adult novels The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse by Fredrik Brounéus.
- Isaac Newton plays a significant role in The Age of Unreason, a series of four alternate history novels written by American science fiction and fantasy author Gregory Keyes.
- Newton is an important character in The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. A major theme of these novels is the emergence of modern science, with Newton's work in the Principia being prominent. Newton's interest in alchemy and the dispute over the discovery of calculus are prominent plot points, and there is a (fictional) debate on metaphysics between Newton and Gottfried Leibniz moderated by Caroline of Ansbach. The development of an economy based on money and credit is also a major theme, with Newton's time with the Royal Mint and intrigues against counterfeit leading to a Trial of the Pyx.
- Newton is a recurring character in Gotlib's Rubrique-à-Brac series of comics, where he repeatedly discovers gravity or randomly bizarre laws after being (often very heavily) hit on the head by various objects, including the famous apple.
- Newton is the protagonist of the 2002 Philip Kerr novel Dark Matter, set during the Great Recoinage.
- Newton is a major character in Michael White's 2006 novel Equinox.
- 'Sir Isaac Newton' is a newt in The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter.
- The 2017 novel A Dragon's Guide to Making Your Human Smarter by Laurence Yep features Newton as a character, having lived to the present day due to finding the Philosopher's Stone. He is a teacher at the Spriggs Academy for ordinary humans and magical beings, and continues to create innovations such as a wormhole generator. Newton also displays a wry sense of humor, using his invention to prank Charles II, supposedly on the grounds of refusing to knight him.
Books featuring Newton as a plot element
- Newton's alleged participation in the Priory of Sion; Newton's grave in Westminster Abbey provides the crucial clue in the mystery thriller The Da Vinci Code.
- Newton is credited as having invented the pet door (cat flap) as a monumental life achievement in Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987).
- "Ghostwalk" is story mainly about the mystery between Newton and Ezekiel Foxcroft's crime
- Arcadia, Tom Stoppard, includes long discussions of topics of mathematical interest including: Fermat's Last Theorem and Newtonian determinism
- Five Fugues For Isaac Newton, Rae Davis
- Calculus, Carl Djerassi
- Small Infinities, Alan Brody, MIT
- Character in the play In Good King Charles's Glorious Days - by George Bernard Shaw
- The Physicists, a satiric drama by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
- Let Newton Be!, a verbatim play constructed from the published and unpublished words of Newton and his immediate contemporaries by Craig Baxter
TV and radio
- In 1982, Dan Kern played Newton in an episode of Voyagers!, "Cleo and the Babe".
- From 1983 until 1998, Newton's Apple ran on PBS and was based around answering science questions for children.
- Trevor Howard guest-starred as Newton in the 1986 mini-series Peter the Great.
- In 1993, John Neville played Newton in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Descent".
- In 1996, Newton was the main villain of the anime The Vision of Escaflowne as Emperor Dornkirk.
- In 1996 and 1997, Newton was played by Peter Dennis in the Star Trek: Voyager episodes "Death Wish" and "Darkling".
- In 2007, David Warner portrayed Newton in the Doctor Who audio drama Circular Time. The Fourth Doctor had previously mentioned his acquaintance with Newton in the TV serials Shada and The Five Doctors (the same footage reused).
- In the Japanese television show, Kamen Rider Ghost, the ghost of Isaac Newton helps the main character Takeru Tenkuji/Kamen Rider Ghost to access his gravity-controlling Newton Damashii form. Newton's ghost also helps him on his journey to unite the 15 Heroic souls.
Films and video
- Harpo Marx played Newton in a comic appearance in the film The Story of Mankind.
- Me & Isaac Newton, (1999) is a documentary, by Michael Apted, about seven scientists.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic portrayed Newton in a third-season episode of the webseries Epic Rap Battles of History.
- Newton appears in the webseries Super Science Friends where he is the hero of a teenage Albert Einstein.
Some atheists, sceptics, and others have referred to 25 December as Newtonmas, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Christmas. Celebrants send cards with "Reason's Greetings!" printed inside, and exchange boxes of apples and science-related items as gifts. The celebration may have had its origin in a meeting of the Newton Association at Christmas 1890 to talk, distribute gifts, and share laughter and good cheer. The name Newtonmas can be attributed to The Skeptics Society, which needed an alternative name for its Christmas party. Another name for this holiday is Gravmas (also spelt Gravmass or Grav-mass) which is an abbreviation of "gravitational mass" due to Newton's Theory of Gravitation.
On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec. 25, 1642.
In a subsequent interview, Tyson denied being "anti-Christian", noting that Jesus' true birthdate is unknown.
Newton's birthday was 25 December under the Old Style Julian Calendar used in Protestant England at the time, but was 4 January under the New Style Gregorian Calendar used simultaneously in Catholic Europe. The period between has been proposed for a holiday season called "10 Days of Newton" to commemorate this.
- Category:Cultural depictions of scientists
- List of cultural icons of England
- List of things named after Isaac Newton
- Mann, Adrian (14 May 2014). "The Strange, Secret History of Isaac Newton's Papers". Wired.com.
- Yeo, R. (2008). "Genius, Method, and Morality: Images of Newton in Britain, 1760–1860". Science in Context. 2 (2): 257. doi:10.1017/S0269889700000594.
- Fara, P. (2002). Newton: The making of genius. London: Picador. ISBN 978-0231128063.
- "Newton beats Einstein in polls of scientists and the public". The Royal Society. 23 November 2005.
- "Einstein "greatest physicist ever;" Newton runner-up". BBC News. 29 November 1999.
- Isaac Newton, Blake, William, Web Gallery of Art
- "'Newton', Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, 1988". Tate.
- J. Robert Barth (2003). Romanticism and Transcendence: Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the Religious Imagination. University of Missouri Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-8262-1453-9.
- "HPSC 109. Lecture 15. The Romantic Reaction 1: Romanticism and the Revolt Against Newtonianism". Archived from the original on 12 May 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- James Thomson. "A Poem Sacred to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton". PoemHunter.com. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- Carol Rumens (26 January 2009). "Poem of the week: The Movement of Bodies". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- Plays, MathFiction
- Tei, Andrew (5 July 2002). "Anime Expo Friday Report". AnimeOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 27 July 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
Q) Where did the idea to use Isaac Newton as a model for Dornkirk (leader of Zaibach) come from? A) Kawamori answers by saying that Newton was an alchemist and wrote a book on alchemy. Kawamori came up with the theory that Newton discovered the "power" [of Atlantis]. He designed Dornkirk as not a bad guy.
- Me & Isaac Newton, imdb.com
- Me & Isaac Newton, Monsters at Play Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Dawkins, Richard (13 December 2007). "Happy Newton Day! - December 25th is a date to celebrate not because it is the disputed birthday of the "son of God" but". New Statesman. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- Winston, Kimberly (16 December 2011). "On Dec. 25, atheists celebrate a different birthday". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 19 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- Stallman, Richard M. "Celebrate Grav-Mass". Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- Bauder, David (7 January 2015). "Neil deGrasse Tyson Says He's Not Anti-Christian". Retrieved 8 January 2015.[dead link]
- Judson, Olivia (23 December 2008). "The 10 Days of Newton". The New York Times.
- Patricia Fara, David Money (2004). "Isaac Newton and Augustan Anglo-Latin poetry". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science A. 35 (3): 549–571. doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2004.06.007.