Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree
My friend and I travelled to Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire today, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton, and the likely setting of the famous ‘apple incident’. We saw the room where he was born, and the bedroom where he conducted experiments with light, but by far the most interesting thing was the apple tree in the grounds just outside.
The story of an apple dropping from a tree having inspired Newton’s theory of gravity is confirmed in the writings of some of Newton’s closest friends. William Stukeley, Newton’s biographer, for example, wrote in 1726 how Newton told him, as the strolled below apple trees in Kensington, how:
… he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. “why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” thought he to himself; occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in a contemplative mood. “why should it not go sideways, or upwards? but constantly to the earths center? assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it.
[Sources: Photograph: Mine | Woolsthorpe Manor | Isaac Newton]