New­ton never men­tioned an ap­ple fall­ing from a tree un­til 40 years af­ter his dis­cov­ery of the law of grav­ity

Sky at Night Magazine - - MYSTERIOUS GRAVITY -

Ev­ery­one knows the story of New­ton and the fall­ing ap­ple. His key in­sight was that the ap­ple and the Moon both fall un­der grav­ity (the Moon, be­cause of its sideways ve­loc­ity, never gets any closer). By com­par­ing their rates of fall, he de­duced the in­verse-square law – that the force be­tween bod­ies is four times as weak when they are twice as far apart, and so on. But the first time New­ton told the story of the ap­ple was to his bi­og­ra­pher, Wil­liam Stuke­ley, four decades af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the law of grav­ity. Per­haps, with his cre­ative days be­hind him, he was con­coct­ing his own le­gend. Cer­tainly, the story de­picts New­ton as the lone ge­nius struck by a flash of in­spi­ra­tion.

The fall­ing ap­ple story is prob­a­bly the re­sult of some cre­ative li­cence on New­ton’s part

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