The UnAustralian

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I've always heard that Isaac Newton was a bit of prick, however, I've never looked into the details. However, while reading John Gribbin's "Science: A History", I've found a great example of how a harsh insult by Newton now reads like a very humble statement.

Issac Newton constantly clashed with Robert Hooke. Eventually, some members of the Royal Society stepped in, and forced the two to kiss and make up. Hooke sent Newton a letter which essentally stated that Newton was a very very good scientist. Newton's responce was to try to put his work into context with other earlier scientists and included the famous lines:

If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants

The context of these lines changes considerably, when one remembers that Hooke was a very short man.
| 4:16 PM