Words of Wisdom—Isaac Newton

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Isaac Newton (January 4, 1643—March 31, 1727), born in England, is known as one of the greatest and most influential mathematicians and scientists, ever. He developed the laws of motion and gravitation, and was instrumental in devising infinitesimal calculus. He also showed what Pythagoras reasoned: all is number, and nature (and the universe) is based on mathematics.

What is less known about him is that he was an alchemist, believed in the philosopher’s stone, and translated the Emerald Tablet, an ancient, mysterious engraving made by Hermes Trismegistus. “In the later years of his life, Isaac Newton began a wild search for the philosopher’s stone. This, as some people believed in his time, was a mystical substance that could change base metals like lead into gold and could grant anyone who drank it eternal life. To Newton, this was no superstition—this was a genuine science. For whatever reason, he fully and completely believed that the philosopher’s stone was real. He studied every paper on alchemy he could find and ran test after test in a lab of his own making, struggling to create an elixir that would give him eternal life. The key, Newton seems to have believed, was mercury. In his notes, he had a recipe written by other alchemists that called for ‘sophick mercury,’ and he seems to have created some of his own…Newton seems to have believed that there was a coded message hidden within the Emerald Tablet that would let him control the prima materia and turn any element into any other, and he wrote a whole series of notes trying to unpack its secrets.” 

Below we list select words of wisdom by Isaac Newton.

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.”

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

“Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

“Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance.”

“I know not how I seem to others, but to myself I am but a small child wandering upon the vast shores of knowledge, every now and then finding a small bright pebble to content myself with while the vast ocean of undiscovered truth lay before me.”

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”

“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”

“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

“In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

“All my discoveries have been made in answer to prayer.”

“My powers are ordinary. Only my application brings me success.”

“Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation.”

“He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God.”

“To arrive at the simplest truth requires years of contemplation.”

“If I am anything, which I highly doubt, I have made myself so by hard work.”

“If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been due more to patient attention, than to any other talent.”

“God created everything by number, weight and measure.”

“A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.”

“When two forces unite, their efficiency double.”

“What goes up must come down.”

“Every particle of matter is attracted by or gravitates to every other particle of matter with a force inversely proportional to the squares of their distances.”

“Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth.”

Sir Isaac Newton was asked how he discovered the law of gravity. He replied, “By thinking about it all the time.”

“If two angels were sent down from heaven -one to conduct an empire and the other to sweep the streets -they would feel no inclination to change employment because an angel would know that no matter what we are doing, it’s an opportunity to bring joy, deepen our understanding and expand our life.”

“Trials are medicines which our gracious and wise Physician prescribes because we need them; and he proportions the frequency and weight of them to what the case requires. Let us trust his skill and thank him for his prescription.”

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Copyright © 2021 Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo

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