Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

UNESCO Preserves the Works of One of the Greatest Minds in Human History

This polymath's papers—full of personal and scientific revelations—have joined the World Register.

A stamp printed in Laos from the "Space Exploration " issue shows Newton and Lunokhod 2, circa 1984.
A stamp printed in Laos from the "Space Exploration " issue shows Isaac Newton and Lunokhod 2, circa 1984.

The UNESCO International Memory of the World Register has recently added another batch of genius to its collection of documents: the papers, diaries, books, and notes of Sir Isaac Newton, thereby helping to preserve for all time the works of one of the greatest minds in human history.

Wait, who added what?

The UNESCO Memory of the World Program is a programmed dedicated to the preservation of and access to the documentary heritage of the world. The program has existed since 1992 and has discovered, preserved, and exhibited countess documents of vital importance to the heritage of mankind since then, including the papers of Winston Churchill, the telegram Austria-Hungary sent to declare war on Serbia, and The Wizard of Oz.

So, why add Newton’s stuff?

Isaac Newton discovered and formulated the law of gravity, the classical laws of motion, the nature of color and optics, and invented calculus in his spare time. He invented the reflecting telescope, determined why the planets don’t move in perfect circles, and he later went on to invent the little indentations around the side of coins when he was the master of the mint for Great Britain. His contributions to science are nearly impossible to overstate.

And don’t take my word for it; Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains here why Newton is the greatest physicist of all time.


What documents of his did they add to the register?

This round of additions included the Cambridge Papers, a grand collection of Newton’s works. This includes his ‘Laboratory Notebook’ where he recorded the results of sticking a pin in his eye to induce color images (it didn’t quite work), his record of personal expenditures (he lost a bit of money at cards), and his personally annotated copy of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), one of the most important works in the history of science. Reading his handwritten notes, you can see the evolution of his understanding of physics from the first edition of his groundbreaking work and compare them to the changes he made in the second and third editions of Principia.

Amusingly, a list of the sins that he committed before and after Whitsunday in 1662 was also included. He seemed to have had a habit of doing things he should not, and then lying about it. He lists the sin of gluttony twice in a row, proving that geniuses are not so different from us after all.


His first thoughts were to pie, not gravity. 

The work of Isaac Newton changed how humanity understood the universe. From his determining that white light was composed of all colors and that motion is unrelated to material, to inventing calculus in a “waste book” for the sake of his own curiosity, the way his mind worked awes us. Alexander Pope was not far off when he quipped that,Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light.

Brush up on Newton's Laws of Motion with Crash Course:

Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Ready to see the future? Nanotronics CEO Matthew Putman talks innovation and the solutions that are right under our noses.

Big Think LIVE

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Russia claims world's first COVID-19 vaccine but skepticism abounds

President Vladimir Putin announces approval of Russia's coronavirus vaccine but scientists warn it may be unsafe.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced coronavirus vaccine at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Credit: Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Coronavirus
  • Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in Russia.
  • Scientists around the world are worried that the vaccine is unsafe and that Russia fast-tracked the vaccine without performing the necessary phase 3 trials.
  • To date, Russia has had nearly 900,000 registered cases of coronavirus.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Therapy app Talkspace mined user data for marketing insights, former employees allege

    A report from the New York Times raises questions over how the teletherapy startup Talkspace handles user data.

    Talkspace.com
    Technology & Innovation
    • In the report, several former employees said that "individual users' anonymized conversations were routinely reviewed and mined for insights."
    • Talkspace denied using user data for marketing purposes, though it acknowledged that it looks at client transcripts to improve its services.
    • It's still unclear whether teletherapy is as effective as traditional therapy.
    Keep reading Show less
    Mind & Brain

    Viewing abstract art causes notable cognitive changes

    Viewing art that doesn't look like anything makes your brain take extra steps to try and get it.

    Scroll down to load more…
    Quantcast