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Isaac Newton's Apple Tree

952 of 1160 nominations

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Isaac Newton's Apple Tree

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Isaac Newton's Apple Tree

In the back garden of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge is an apple tree. There is another in the University Botanic Gardens. Each is said to be a descendant of the one at Woolsthorpe Manor near Grantham that inspired the founder of modern physics to inquire into the nature of gravitation and the laws of motion. Observing the fully formed fruit drop from the tree prompted Newton to ask the vital questions: “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground? Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s centre?” In the popular myth we all grew up with, Newton was hit on the head by the apple, its impact suggestively knocking a moment of enlightened inspiration into him. By his own account, he was sitting indoors, well out of harm’s way, at the decisive moment. Today, the National Trust owns Woolsthorpe, the Newton family home, and has restored the walled kitchen garden behind it. And guess what? There is a descendant of the original apple tree there too, proving that the tree was quite as fertile as the mind of the great man himself.

NOMINATION 952 OF 1160

Your comments

It manages to represent at the same time a rural English garden and world-class philosophical/mathematical thinking.

Maggie Holland


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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry

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