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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