Society X

the Great Universe

Month: December, 2015

Newton’s Apple Tree

by 5ocietyx

newtons-apple-tree

At the turn of the twentieth century it was decided by the Crown that Bushy House was to be offered to the distinguished gentlemen of the Royal Society for the founding of the National Physical Laboratory.

Bushy House is typical of this part of the world at the time, an ornate country house or stately villa set in acres of landscaped gardens and it would prove a perfect setting for the finest minds in the land to gather to share ideas and work on world-changing inventions such as the concept and application of packet-switching on electronic networks that is recognized by the Internet Society to have greatly influenced the creation of the Internet.

The story of how Newton’s Apple Tree ended up growing in the garden of Bushy House is picked up first by fellow arcadian and frequenter of Chiswick House ‘Voltaire’ who in the year of 1727 first published the account of how Newton developed the law of gravity.

“Isaak Newton walking in his garden had the first Thought of his System of Gravitation, upon seeing an apple fall from a tree.”

Sadly, this iconic little apple tree was blown down in a tempest in the year 1820. Or so the story goes.

But the story doesn’t end there. Like a phoenix from the ashes parts of the roots were used to grow new trees from the fallen mother.

Many years later Kew Gardens received graftings from this same stock and the director at Kew sent one to the director of NPL, just along the river at Teddington.

It was planted in 1953 and continues to bear fruit to this day.

What this fascinating story shows is how much shared respect we as a nation have for trees. Should a famous event be linked with one then the specimen instantly takes on a hallowed aura and eternal fame. In the case of Newton’s apple tree it has attained a kind of immortality but was it the tree that transplanted itself to Arcadia to be born again from its roots in Lincolnshire with the assistance of men or the other way round?

A further philosophical ponderance is raised. With the original tree still growing in Newton’s garden in Lincolnshire, does that make this famous little tree in Teddington a copy, a clone of the original or is it one and the same tree existing in fractal space it being genetically identical rather than an offspring of the original?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Line of Beauty

by 5ocietyx

The Analysis of Beauty William Hogarth

In The Analysis of Beauty, William Hogarth placed as the focal-point what he termed ‘the line of beauty’. Otherwise known as a ‘serpentine’.

These S-shaped curved lines were said to be agreeable with even the ‘eye of the beholder’ as they naturally  stimulated our faculties with ‘activity and liveliness’ especially when compared to straight lines which signified stasis or death.

Chiswick contemporary and fellow-arcadian Capability Brown, whose tercentenary is celebrated in 2016, in true Augustan spirit made use of these ‘lines of beauty’ in his world-renown landscapes including serpentine paths, earthworks and lakes.

line-of-beauty-hogarth

 

Clearly Hogarth had rediscovered a secret of design that was intuitively used since ancient times in the creation of musical instruments such as the harp and lyre

Harp

lyre

But is also found in the most beautiful forms in nature

swan

Including the human form

statue

venus

 

as well as furniture design from the Louis XV period.

lous-xv-table
25 years prior to publication of Hogarth’s masterpiece on aesthetics and just up the road from Hogarth’s House, fellow arcadian William Kent introduced vitruvian proportions into architecture at Chiswick Park with the aptly named Chiswick House.

The golden ratio is about self-similar patterns arranged in such a way so as to provide balance of mass in space. this is what allows trees and flowers to remain upright and not completely compelled by gravity to topple by their own weight and the heavy fruits they bear. It is also what allows a more even distribution of light for leaves of all branches thus balancing overall growth.

The golden ratio spirals, the line of beauty is a waveform.

The golden ratio self-replicates in its infinite variety, the line of beauty is a singular flow that has a clear beginning and end that shouldn’t be repeated as it should remain unique. The golden ratio is found everywhere in nature and is a thing of outstanding beauty, the line of beauty is also found in nature and is more rare and seems to only be found in the most elegant things such as the curve of a well-formed ladies hips, the arch in a swan’s neck and the bend in a river.

The line of beauty appears to be related to graceful movement through space something paintings and photographs can’t do justice to. Perhaps this is what fellow arcadian Lord Byron was alluding to in his poem ‘She walks in beauty’..

As fellow arcadian Sir Francis Bacon pointed out in his essay Of Beauty 

In beauty, that of favor, is more than that of color; and that of decent and gracious motion, more than that of favor. That is the best part of beauty, which a picture cannot express; no, nor the first sight of the life. There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.

The reality of the golden ratio and the line of beauty raises important questions on the nature of the universe.

We will be exploring this strange connection in subsequent posts leading up to the release of ‘Arcadia’ (working title) next year – a call to action to revive the arcadian spirit and lifestyle along this stretch of the thames back to its halcyon days.

You can follow updates to ‘Arcadia’ on twitter.

 

arcadia-aerial

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