Get off that shoulder — it’s my giant!

Yesterday I visited the Wren Library, which houses many of Newton’s old books. Notably, they have a first edition of Principia Mathematica, with Newton’s handwritten corrections for the second edition. So what did Ike see fit to correct? Well, the title page of the first edition listed him as a Fellow of the Royal Society. Sir Isaac crossed that out: he was now the President of the Royal Society! As Jonathan Oppenheim pointed out to me, it’s weirdly reassuring to see a guy at the vertiginous top of the academic ladder, grasping in vain for the nonexistent rung above.

4 Responses to “Get off that shoulder — it’s my giant!”

  1. Miss HT Psych Says:

    I have yet to view any documents that are as old as Newton’s Principia Mathematica. The oldest I’ve gotten my hands on thus far is a first edition of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755). I admit, I totally geeked out over holding something that old. But I guess that’s the joy of being in History & Theory of Psych… eventually, looking at archival material like that will be required.

    There’s just something about seeing the actual document that really hits home how magnificent it was…

  2. secret milkshake Says:

    Sir Isaac was not a nice, affable, modest and generous man – by all accounts. He was secretive, suspicious, deeply sensitive to critique and competition. He held grudges and was vindicative.

    This reminds me of one bright aspiring string theoretician. His universe, too, seems governed by Misantropic principle.

  3. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    The misanthropic principle. The universe is post-selected for an irritating humanity. That’s good!

  4. secret milkshake Says:

    The misanthropic principle: Our universe is precision-tuned to produce the irritating dorks.