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Awaiting Fruits from this Lockdown

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Peter Anderson's picture
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Joined: 21/11/2015 - 23:34
Awaiting Fruits from this Lockdown

Hello all,

I could not but help thinking that Isaac Newton's key discoveries and insights came, or at least germinated, during his own enforced 'lockdown'. Though this was three and a half centuries ago, there is a parallel and perhaps even today, largely freed from the requirements of everyday, daily life, we might see some inspired work resulting. Surely there are some modern day Newtons out there?  See extract from a biography of Newton below:

The Apple Myth 

Between 1665 and 1667, Newton returned home from Trinity College to pursue his private study, as school was closed due to the Great Plague. Legend has it that, at this time, Newton experienced his famous inspiration of gravity with the falling apple. According to this common myth, Newton was sitting under an apple tree when a fruit fell and hit him on the head, inspiring him to suddenly come up with the theory of gravity. 

While there is no evidence that the apple actually hit Newton on the head, he did see an apple fall from a tree, leading him to wonder why it fell straight down and not at an angle. Consequently, he began exploring the theories of motion and gravity.

It was during this 18-month hiatus as a student that Newton conceived many of his most important insights—including the method of infinitesimal calculus, the foundations for his theory of light and color, and the laws of planetary motion—that eventually led to the publication of his physics book Principia and his theory of gravity. 

alanbthomas's picture
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Awaiting Fruit

Great idea, Peter. I'll let you know when I have thought a Great Thought!

(don't hold your breath)

David Arditti's picture
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Very true

I think you are quite right, Peter.

I think when thinkers in all different disciplines are separated from their usual colleagues, usual influences and the peer-pressure that results in people grouped together thinking thinking similarly, original and useful thoughts are very likely to result. Also there is likely to be less distracting day-to-day administrative activity, enabling deeper thought.

I recall the comment of Joseph Haydn, about his period spend at the court of Price Esterhazy in Bohemia, that he was isolated from all the influences he had had in Vienna, and so he was forced to be original, writing his best music there.

I have also been spending a lot of time in the shed at the bottom of my garden, waiting for inspiration to strike.

Peter Anderson's picture
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Awaiting Fruits from this Lockdown

Just a final succinct comment. Discussing the subject with our eldest son he observed that such insights and creativity often spring from a combination of genius and boredom.

hercules's picture
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Awaiting fruits from lockdown

Apparently, the philosopher Descartes was given special dispensation from the Jesuits to have extended lie-ins, as he always had his most important thoughts while in bed....that's where I've been going wrong...