It’s the 368th Newton’s Day!


Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir Godfrey Kneller

This is the sixth celebration of Newton's Day here at 3QD. Richard Dawkins and I independently and simultaneously came upon the idea of celebrating December 25th as Newton's Day in 2004, and each year since then I have written a little something about Sir Isaac. Here are my posts from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Today, instead of focusing on his science as I have done in years past, I would like simply to present the excellent BBC documentary, Newton: The Dark Heretic, which examines what many people do not know much about: Sir Isaac's dogged investigations into alchemy. The following is the BBC's description of the program:

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is widely regarded as the greatest scientist in the history of the world. A physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and theologian, one of Newton's works, “Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (1687), is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. Yet relatively few people are aware of Newton's very serious pursuit into alchemy and the esoterica, the practice of which would have been deemed heretical in his day.

Beautifully written and directed, with fantastic acting and costume, “Newton: The Dark Heretic” (2003) explores Newton's alchemical endeavours, revealing a man few would recognise. Many of Newton's private manuscripts are examined, which paint a very spiritual man who was absolutely consumed with unraveling the mysteries of the universe, a pursuit which would ultimately push him to the brink of insanity.

Runtime: 00:59:01

Enjoy. (And best wishes and good health to all!)