Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in Night:The end of the Christmas season is in sight, with Epiphany just around the corner this Eleventh Day of Christmas in the year 2010 of the Common Era. It’s Newton’s birthday according to the present calendar, though by the calendar in use in England in the year 1642/3, he was born on 25 December, Christmas Day. Across the channel in France, however, where they had long since adopted the Gregorian calendar, it was 4 January, as it was throughout Europe—the Roman Catholic parts, anyway.
GOD said, Let Newton be! and all was Light.
It’s always seemed rather appropriate to me that Newton should have been born during this season—his work on optics fits well with the theme of a Festival of Lights, and his work on celestial mechanics connects nicely with the oddity of planetary movements that creates the winter solstice. And of course he fancied himself a theologian, wasting his talents deciphering the numbers in the Book of Daniel, for example—which gives him ties (of a sort) with Hanukkah as well.
Consulting my master list I see that we’ve shot by all seven days of Kwanzaa (26 December through 1 January), Boxing Day (26 December), St. Stephen’s Day (26 December), St. John’s Day (27 December), Holy Innocents’ Day (28 December), Hogmanay (31 December), St. Sylvester’s Day (31 December), and New Year (1 January). And we’ve also had the first through the tenth Days of Christmas. I had pieces started for at least some of these, but as the season got eaten up with plumbing disasters and other calls on my time I guess I’ll save them for next year. Or never, depending on which comes first.
Anyway, Happy 367th birthday, Sir Isaac.