Isaac Newton: Physicist, Religious Devotee, Alchemist
What’s the Latest?
All of Isaac Newton’s posthumous writings are now available online so that anyone can discover the complexity of this brilliant man’s life. It may come as a surprise that most of Newton’s unpublished writings at the time of his death were devoted to religious investigation. He was, in short, an obsessive heretic. Of course he was also many other things, not the least of which was a scientific revolutionary. The strange history of Newton’s manuscripts, which were at times suppressed, illuminated, and ignored, are brought to new light in Sarah Dry’s book The Newton Papers: The Strange and True Odyssey of Isaac Newton’s Manuscripts.
What’s the Big Idea?
The complexity of Newton’s beliefs combined with his unquestionable scientific zeal raise important questions that are relevant to our world. For example, what does it mean to really know a person? Is it more essential to know what they say in private versus what they make public? In an age of Twitter and Facebook, any thoughts deliberately kept off those media are often taken as more truthful, and likely too truthful to be met with acceptance. The important question, according to Dry, is how our public and private selves interact and inform each other.