It was on Thursday, 20th March 1727 that a very special man died.
He had been born 84 years previous on 25th December 1642 and left behind him a world greatly changed. He had studied at Trinity College in Cambridge and, in 1669, was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics there. He achieved a great many things during his lifetime but a quote by him shows his lack of boasting. He said:
‘I know not what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.’
This statement was quoted in an 1855 book edited by Sir David Brewster – a Scottish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor, writer and historian of science.
The title of that book was/is: ‘Memoirs of Newton’ – that’s right – Sir Isaac Newton.
And yes – it is true that an apple falling in his garden – not on his head – suggested the train of thought that led to the understanding of the law of gravitation.
Isaac was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 and he lies buried in Westminster Abbey.