(warning: caps lock abuse ahead. Ready yourselves.)
I should have learned by now that rants about my passions do not a ten page essay make.
Hell, it’s not even a rant. It’s just a history.
But it’s the calculus controversy! HOW CAN I NOT BE EXCITED?!
Seriously, this stuff is fascinating. Even if I didn’t have a massive lady boner for Leibniz, I’d be just as engrossed in this.
Newton was 23 years old when he came up with his method of fluxions and fluents.
TWENTY THREE YEARS OLD.
Can you imagine that? God, when I was twenty three I was busy binge-drinking Red Bull and trying not to spontaneously combust over my pittance of a Master’s thesis (“durrrr, what’s an eigenvalue?”). This guy was INVENTING CALCULUS.
And Leibniz taught himself Latin and was proficient in it by the time he was twelve. TWELVE. I couldn’t even count to ten in another language when I was twelve! He published his first book on combinatorics when he was twenty, even before starting his studies in math.
I love this stuff, but reading about it also makes me feel like an IDIOT, because what the hell have I done with my life?
But that is immaterial.
And the actual battle over priority between these two guys? Oh my god.
For a dispute over something as magnificent as calculus between two of the greatest minds ever, there was sure a lot of hair-pulling (wig-pulling?) and name-calling going on.
And it TOTALLY wasn’t a fair fight, either! Both men were members of the Royal Society of London. At the nastiest point of their fighting, Newton had been appointed President. He used his power to get a “report” he’d written on his own published as if it were an effort of the entire Society. The report basically said that Leibniz did, in fact, “have prior knowledge” of Newton’s calculus when he started working on his own. It was enough evidence against Leibniz to put him in a bad light for the rest of his life. He had one person attend his funeral when he died in 1716. Yup, the guy who co-invented calculus, the guy who refined the binary system, the guy who anticipated the distinction between the conscious and unconscious long before anyone else, had one person attend his funeral.
I mean, seriously. Isn’t that just sad? Don’t you feel badly for him? He deserved better, man.
I’m like beyond hyper excited right now for some reason. Gonna go write some more of this essay, then gonna go work on NaNoWriMo nonsense. Haha, I’ve been pretty quiet about it thus far (shocking!) but that’s because a) it’s not as good of a plot as my previous three were, even though it’s coming along quite smoothly and b) school and teaching have so absorbed my soul that I even keep forgetting to update my word count on the website.
Maybe I’ll put up an excerpt later this month.