James Bryant... my hero, Isaac Newton
WE all need heroes to help us through life and by that I don't mean the chocolate sweets! Nor am l referring to fictitious people like Superman because a hero must be someone who once lived or is still living, but they don't have to be famous, could be though.
My hero is Isaac Newton whom I first came across in a physics book while studying for my "O Levels" at Longsands comprehensive school, St Neots. The year was 1971. From that moment on I was drawn to him like the proverbial apple to the Earth if you'll excuse the pun. And I still experience a buzz when reading his "seashore quote" given shortly before he died which goes as follows:
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
This quote is all the more surprising when you realise that he never went to the seaside!
I'm not going to list all his achievements as it would surely bore you to death as they're spread across the whole spectrum of science from the Universal Law of Gravity to the invention of the cat flap. However, it's enough to say that he is (was) the greatest mortal that has ever lived. Trust me. And if Stephen Spielberg ever decides to make a film about Newton's life then it would make Saving Private Ryan look like a minor skirmish at your local pub. Although Newton's battles were not fought with the gun but instead the mighty pen. And if you want a great introduction to his genius then just read the opening preface of Richard Westfall's, "Never At Rest" or read my penned version of it below:
Below's my favourite painting of Newton (pity they didn't have cameras in those days). See also my 60th Birthday Bash
Newton at 46
The Royal Society carried out a poll in November 2005 to compare Newton with Einstein to see who was the greatest scientist of the two. Needless to say Newton trounced Einstein and won relatively easy. The attached file is a cutting from The Times on 23/11/05 giving the details or try The Royal Society web site.
"If I have seen further it's by standing on the shoulders of giants" (Newton in a letter to Hooke on 5/2/1676)
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