Genius — these days, we bandy the term about ever so freely. Everyone’s a genius, including this 2-year-old wielding a pair of nail clippers. Then, Neil deGrasse Tyson comes along and reminds us what a genius really looks like. Asked “Who is the Greatest Physicist in History,” he responds, Isaac Newton, without any hesitation. Newton discovered the laws of optics, proving that white light is actually made up of colors, the colors of the rainbow. He mapped out his three laws of motion and the universal laws of gravitation. And then he invented differential and integral calculus to explain why planets orbit in an elliptical fashion. Now get ready for the kicker. This all happened before Newtown turned 26. That, my friends, is what genius looks like.
This clip comes from an extended Big Think interview, which you can watch in full here.
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Pure genius at such an early age. It’s amazing, but I have always wondered how some human beings are capable of such amazing achievements and how the law of action/reaction fits in here.
People like Newton, Einstein, Mozart, Plato etc. grasped things well beyond what explanation warrants. One can’t help but be in utter awe at their ingenious explanations and exercise of skill.
No, Newton didn’t invent calculus on a dare in two months. Building this branch of mathematics was the collaborative effort of many people over many years. Fermat, Cavalieri, Descartes, Barrow and others had laid the foundations before Newton came along.
Tyson’s story is an often repeated piece of bad history.
Also Edmund Halley asked the famous question on elliptical orbits when Newton was 41. ‘Murica loves bull shit.