Thursday, March 1, 2012

Isaac Newton was a jerk.

Isaac Newton is one of the most important and influential individuals in history.
If he was alive today, he would tell you the same thing.

Isaac Newton had a famously big ego. He believed he was gods gift to the world, much smarter than everyone else, and believed other humans were on earth to hold him back.

Don't confuse his famous "Standing on the shoulders of Giants" quote for modesty. As it was likely a veiled insult of Robert Hooke, who was a rather short man. In contrast to Newton himself, who was rather tall. [1]

Robert Hooke is a man Isaac Newton did not hold in high regard. Hooke is known to have studied gravity years before Newton, even coining the term "gravity" before he uttered the word. So it's no wonder why Hooke felt Newton never gave him enough credit when he published his work on gravity in Principia [2]. Isaac Newton never forgave him for this view, and expunged all references to Hooke's work from his publications,[3] Isaac Newton also wrote the publisher of Principia in strong terms over the argument and caused Hooke to begin working in secret. Their argument lasted until Hooke's death, with Isaac years later striking the final blow by destroying the last authenticated portrait of Hooke[4], historians today still are not certain of what Robert Hooke looked like.
But maybe we can forgive Newton for destroying the life of one scientist after all he contributed to our species. There is no dispute that he *was* a genius. As he discovered the properties of light, gravity and calculus in one summer.[5] What did you do over your summer vacation?

The truth is, though, his douchebaggery does not end there. 

"When Newton disagreed with astronomer John Flamsteed‘s zealous approach to research, Newton stole his work and published it under Edmund Halley, Flamsteed’s mortal enemy." ([4])

Which I can only regard as one of histories greatest trolls.

Perhaps his most famous dispute was with Gottfried Leibniz, over who developed calculus first. (Whoever it was, they're a dick. At least during this school quarter). This debate is so big that it is often regarded as one of the most heated debates in the history of science. [3]

Leibniz did the gentlemanly thing and took the matter to the Royal Society, to act as a mediator and investigate the dispute. Of which Newton was the president of...

Newton organized a review committee filled with personal friends and then wrote the committee findings personally, unsurprisingly the "committee" ruled in Newtons favor.[4]

Truth is, I'm not that surprised by Newtons dickery. I suppose you need an ego as big as Newton had to think that you can do such amazing things, the difference between him and the average egotistical jerk. Is that he had a brain to match.

So new readers, how do you feel about discovering this? Or did you already know? Post a comment below to tell me about it.