Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Newton's spooky coat of arms
After Isaac Newton was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705 he adopted an unusual coat of arms: a pair of human tibiæ crossed on a black background, like a pirate flag without the skull. After some general reflections on Newton’s monumental scientific achievements and on his rather enigmatic life, we investigate the story behind his coat of arms. We also discuss how that simple heraldic design illustrates the concept of chirality, which would later play an important role in the philosophical arguments about Newton’s conception of space, as well as in the development of modern chemistry and particle physics.
Isaac Newton’s sinister heraldry by Alejandro Jenkins