Sir Isaac Newton's notebook

Contributed by The Fitzwilliam Museum

A page from Sir Isaac Newton's notebook showing his accounts. © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Newton wrote parts of this private journal in a secret code, which historians only cracked in the 1960sOne of history's greatest minds, Sir Isaac Newton's 'discovery' of gravity established him as the father of modern science. This calf-leather bound notebook is a private diary kept by Newton in his twenties while at Trinity College, Cambridge - during which time the plague hit the city - and contains everything from Newton's thoughts on optics to his everyday activities. Its accounts section reveals what the great scientist spent his money on: academic purchases such as prisms and lathes appear alongside coins for the laundry, oranges and beer in a local tavern. Newton also recorded his secret confessions, written in a cryptic shorthand code only deciphered in 1964. 'Using Wilfords towel to spare my own'; 'robbing my mother's box of plums and sugar'; 'caring for worldly things more than God' - from petty moods to spiritual conflict, these guilty admissions reveal the human character behind the legendary historical figure.

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1665 to 1668


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