Tag Archives: newton

Trip Prep

It’s almost time for our road trip…which means it’s almost time for THIS:


I’ve been waiting since February to read this! Though I’ll have to either finish it all before the middle of June or so (my annual reading of Antognazza’s Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography must occur on or around Leibniz’ birthday, after all) or take a break and interrupt Newton with Leibniz.

I might have to go with the latter, just because of being able to interrupt Newton with Leibniz.

Edit: online Principia!


So I got two super cool books for my birthday from some guy named Nate. :)



This is like the definitive Newton bio. I’ve wanted to read this since I first heard of it, and now I can! I might have to put it on the bookshelf opposite of the bookshelf with my Leibniz shrine, though, haha.



Giant Antarctica book (this picture makes it look deceptively average-sized). It’s been a looong time since I got a new book on Antarctica, so yay!

Now the question is, do I delve right into Newton’s bio or should I re-read Leibniz’ for the nth time first? I’ll read them both back-to-back, it’s just a question of which one to start with.

Thank you, Nate! :D

This One is Tumblr’s Fault, I Swear

Someone I follow posted this awesome link to Newton’s notebooks stored in the Cambridge Digital Library (link link link!).

Now that I’ve got access to both Newton’s notes and Leibniz’ notes (thanks to checking out Dr. Wolfram’s awesome post on Leibniz’ archives), you can probably guess how freaking excited I am.

So. Graphology in itself is pretty much pseudoscience, but it’s still interesting to compare the writing styles of these two geniuses, just to see if any similarities/differences stand out. That’s allowed, right? (Screw it, I’m doing it anyway.)

A lot of Newton’s notes were written in English ‘cause…duh…he was an Englishman. From what I’ve read about Leibniz, I think he could read and write in English but not nearly as fluently as in several other languages; most of his work was in Latin, the rest in French and German. So I couldn’t find a good English excerpt from both. So let’s do Latin, just for the sake of keeping the language consistent.

Here’s a Newton page:


Look at his writing, it’s so neat! I’m no handwriting analyst or anything like that, but it looks like this section of Newton’s notes was written slowly and deliberately as if he’s just sitting there going, “yeah, I got this.” There are a few things crossed out, of course, but it looks like he took the time to carefully scratch them out and then just kept going. Slow but steady. And his numbers are so clear, too, holy crap.

The above is just a screenshot of a semi-magnified page; on the actual Cambridge site you can zoom in further and make out the English notes he made in the margin. If you look at a lot of other pages in this section of notes, Newton really seems to keep things very organized, even if it looks like he’s making scratch calculations in some parts.

And then there’s Leibniz:


I was planning to do both samples in Latin like I just said above, but I’m snatching pictures of Leibniz’ notes from Dr. Wolfram’s post on him so there aren’t nearly as many choices as with Newton. So I figured a more appropriate comparison would be pages written by both men that contained both words and numbers. I believe Leibniz’ page is written in French, but I seriously can only make out like three words here.

I’m not sure if it’s just because of different writing tools or different ink/paper, but Leibniz looks like he pressed fairly hard (or at least as hard as you could with a quill). Also, in contrast to Newton, it looks to me like Leibniz wrote pretty rapidly. Newton’s corrections were either neat single cross-outs or carefully scribbled out so the mistake couldn’t be read. All of Leibniz’ corrections look like, “no time for error must keep writing!” *scratchscratchscratch* “ONWARD!” Even his numbers look rushed (look, it’s binary!). It almost looks like he used this page for just those calculations but then wrote around them, continuing from a previous page.

On some of the other pages Leibniz really manages to get a lot on a single page. We’re talking ITTY BITTY scrawl, a consequence of his becoming very near-sided in his 20s and it only getting worse as he got older. I’m actually not sure how good (or bad) Newton’s vision was. Of course he did stick a darning needle back behind his eye and wiggled it around (optics experiment), so…

Anyway. Just an interesting thing to see the differences/similarities in their styles.

Shoutout to Newton

Let’s clear up a misconception today.

Despite how much I bitch about him, I do not dislike Sir Isaac Newton.


I don’t know how anyone really could dislike the guy. I mean come on. Anyone who can contribute that much to science and society deserves the utmost respect, even if he wasn’t the easiest guy to get along with. Personality does not beget worth—it’s what you do that counts.


He actually is one of my favorite scientists, and it baffles me just how much he did. It’s really incredible. I would have liked to know him. I just bitch about him a lot because of the whole calculus thing, ‘cause my main man Leibniz got screwed over and that makes me want to invent a time machine so that I could go back and maek things right and then make out with him for the rest of eternity upsets me.

But I do not dislike Sir Isaac Newton.

So shoutout to England’s greatest scientist! I’d make a horrible pun here in your honor, but I can’t think of any right now.

Suckity Suck Suckerson McGee

According to the internet, Isaac Newton is made of “man, Romance, and herpa derp. With a dash of Ramen.” That freaking made my day.


Best thing about tonight’s concert: Bukvich song! Freaking awesome.

Worst thing about tonight’s concert: Bukvich song! But only because it’s a badass song but there are no recordings of it yet so I can’t download it and listen to it whenever I want.

I was going to say something else, but I seriously can’t remember what it was now.

Sorry these suck.

In This Blog: L’Hopital Frets over Getting Apples for Newton

Last night I dreamt I was in France. It was the late 17th century and I was in this huge cathedral just kind of chilling. I was confused because I knew I was supposed to be attending mass at St. Mary’s Church in Moscow, but I had somehow royally screwed up and ended up in France.

I’m sitting in a pew when this dude comes running up the main aisle. I didn’t know who he was at first, but as he got closer I noticed he was wearing a “Hello! My name is L’Hopital” nametag. He’s in the middle of totally freaking out and he’s got this empty basket slung on his arm that keeps changing colors as he’s running around.

Somehow in the dream I know that this is before l’Hopital’s Rule comes into existence, so I think in the dream that it’s my duty to keep him calm so that he’ll live long enough to publish his calculus textbook.

So I say, “Hey l’Hopital, what’s up?” And he goes on this long rant about how it’s his job to gather all these rare apples and transport them to Newton in England. He’s like on the verge of tears so I offer to help him. There’s an apple tree in the front of the church so I point him in that direction (I think it’s weird that he didn’t see that on his own) and together we start harvesting these weird-looking apples. The whole time we’re doing so he just keeps ranting about how he’s a famous mathematician and it shouldn’t fall to him to gather these apples.

This goes on for what seems like five hours (even though it was probably like microseconds in real time), and the basket is finally full. l’Hopital’s finally calmer now that he’s got the apples he needed, and he actually turns to me and thanks me. Then he looks around all deviously and whispers, “let’s make a pie out of five or six of these apples. Newton will never know! I can fill the shipping box with oranges so it weighs the same, and by the time he gets it I’ll be dead anyway, so who cares?”

And of course what am I thinking during all of this? “Holy freaking crap, I get to make pie with a famous mathematician!”

(Also, the pie was tasty.)


Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to my brain.

Protected: In Defense of Concurrent Discovery

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In Honor of Newton’s Birthday*

Anybody who knows me at all knows that I get really, really obsessive about things. I kind of go off on these monomaniacal mental benders where whatever it is I’m obsessing over is doggedly demanding as much of my attention as it can get.

If you’ve perused the last month’s worth of posts here, you know that the current item of obsession is the calculus priority dispute. Obviously the Leibniz factor plays a big part as to why I’m so into this particular bit of mathematical history, but there’s another component that’s equally as fascinating to me.

The reason I went into psychology when I first started college was really because of my interest in intelligence. The various ways we measure intelligence interested me and I was curious as to whether there could be alternate scales produced that would better get at whatever latent factor(s) composed what we call intelligence.

Along those lines, the idea of “genius” has always been intriguing to me as well. I sit here and read about these ridiculously ingenious dudes and I cannot imagine what it would be like going through life with a mind of that caliber. What kind of unique thought processes must you have in order to theorize and describe universal gravitation? How must have Newton seen the world and interpreted even the most mundane of things? Did Leibniz go through life examining every facet of his experiences trying to see how to fit everything into his attempt to create an alphabet of human thought? What kind of mind does it take to go from “I feel that my mathematics knowledge is inadequate” *studystudystudy* “oh, here’s this new thing I came up with called ‘calculus’!”?

I’m such a pleb I can’t even fathom the depth of thought these guys (and other ridiculously intelligent people like them) possessed. It would be the coolest thing to be able to experience that level of understanding, even for like five minutes.

And then, of course, you have to wonder what that component (or components) is (are) that pushes someone from “normal intelligence” to this level of genius. And that brings up the question of whether we all possess that level of thought and the only thing separating “regular” people from the super geniuses is some other component of brain chemistry/personality/persistence/something else.

This is something I’m pretty much always thinking about; the whole calculus thing has just brought it back to the forefront of my mind.


Oh, and Merry Christmas, y’all!

*Newton was born before the English switched to the Gregorian calendar (they were using the Julian calender back when he was born); using the Gregorian puts his DoB on a different day.

Are you sick of all the calculus stuff yet?

Got my “Newton v. Leibniz” paper work-shopped today and my teacher said it  sounded like something out of The New Yorker. So that was pretty cool.

I’ll post it here once I edit it a little more. There are still a few parts I’m not happy with.


If there’s anyone else out there who really digs the history of science/philosophy of science/science in general, they might want to check out the works of Carl Djerassi. Dr. Djerassi, an emeritus professor at Stanford, writes “science-in-fiction.” This, he says, is different than science fiction but also different than biography, as it illustrates scientific history via the human, personal sides of some of the most prominent scientists and scientific events that we’ve seen. In addition to fiction, he also writes poetry, memoir, and plays. I recommend “Calculus” because…well, obvious reasons.

Anyway, check out some of his work if this sounds interesting to you. I just spent like two hours reading his stuff and researching him. Very cool dude.

That’s all!


(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.
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.

Freaking salfjalsfhfhsfahghghghh.

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.


Dear people who have found my blog by searching WordPress for “Leibniz porn”:

I don’t know who you are or where you come from, but I have a feeling we are kindred spirits.

Unless “Leibniz porn” is slang for something else entirely. In which case, someone please inform me of its meaning so as to allow me to avoid amy embarrassment if I were to go to any given public area and say, “gee, I could really go for some Leibniz porn.”

Which has been known to happen.

And on another Leibniz-related note, we are to read part of the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence for Philosophy of Physics this week. This correspondence consisted of a series of letters exchanged between our hero Gottfried and Samuel Clarke, an ardent supporter of Newton and basically a speaker on behalf of him. The two men’s correspondence began in 1715 and ended a year or so later with Leibniz’ death.

Anyway. The two talk mainly about the dispute between absolute vs. relational space (Newton’s/Clarke’s and Leibniz’ views, respectively) as well as things like whether our universe could have been created by god earlier or later than it was and whether or not space is mostly empty. It’s super interesting and fantastic if you get a good translation, ‘cause then you get the snarkiness that was exchanged along with the ideas. For example, at one point in Leibniz’ fourth letter to Clarke you get this little jab as the two debate the meaning of the word “sensorium’”: “The question is indeed about Newton’s sense for that word, not Goclenius’s, Clarke shouldn’t criticize me for quoting the Philosophical Dictionary, because the design of dictionaries is to show the use of words.” Clarke’s got a couple good ones in there, too.

Okay, that is all. I’m in Leibniz ecstasy land today. It’s a good, safe, happy place. Full of wigs.

I Love Uncyclopedia

Uncyclopedia is great. Spent the night browsing it, feel substantially better than I did this afternoon.

From the “glossary of mathematical terms” section:
Absolute Value: The price of a bottle of vodka.
Cartesian Coordinates: Coordinates that one thinks are correct, therefore they must be…
Decagon: The cards are missing.
Euler’s Formula: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Infinity: A big fuckin’ number

From the “statistics” page:
“In the meantime, you should have a look at some FUCKIN POLLS (1/5) “

“Type I Error: Getting statistically significant results.
Type II Error: Getting statistically significant results, lying about the results, and getting caught.
Type III Error: Getting statistically significant results and forgetting to write them down.
Type IV Error: Getting a type I, II, or III error and not realizing it.
Type V Error: You have no fucking idea what you’re doing, do you?”

Newton’s page is practically all about apples. It’s freaking hilarious.
“Four years later, Newton presented his thesis, On The Scrumptiousness Of Apples, to the university. Due to the prevailing low standards in science at the time, it was accepted and Newton graduated.”

“Newton was distraught and flew immediately into a violent rage. He ran into the local market and turned over a cartload of apples shouting, ‘run my pretties, I have freed you!’ This is believed to be the origin of the popular saying ‘upsetting the apple cart’ as well as the less well known phrase ‘don’t go mad and start humping apples like Newton did.’”

And Hume:
“Showing his potential from an early age, he had disproved the existence of God, society, and Asia while still a mere toddler, and the existence of over 30% of all known objects by his eighth birthday. Aristotle had not even learnt to tie his shoe-laces until he was nine.”

I still think Vancouver’s page is the most hilarious thing ever, but Surrey’s article is like 100% accurate. “The city’s current motto is ‘for the love of God, stay the fuck out!’



Today’s song: Ellens Gesang III, D. 839 [Ave Maria] by Barbara Bonney & Geoffrey Parsons


Leibniz’ crater on the moon is bigger than Newton’s.
This makes me happy.
Yes, I’m that obsessive, deal with it.

I should be stopped.

Oh-ho-ho, so every webcomic’s jumping on this apparent bandwagon, are they? Allow me to provide my OWN input!

Oh, Abstruse Goose…

My favorite comic. Ever.



As told through MSN Messenger. Of course.

I’m going to start measuring everything in Newtons
Because the guy came up with three seperate scales for three seperate things…if he’d have lived longer, I’m sure everything would be measured in some Newton or another
Heck, I wish I knew his height so I could use it for a length measurement
Marching band would be great
“Forward march 13 Newtons, then adjusted step 4.33 Newtons”
It’ll also give me more chance to rave about the season finale of Metalocalypse, anyway
Haha, “I give it 5 out of 5 Newtons”

Claudia’s Top 5 Sexiest Men of the Enlightenment

Here are five instances where beauty and brains do occur simultaneously. Also, I adore the fashion of this era.
(2-years-later-retrospective-observation: HOLY CRAP, I posted this on Leibniz’ birthday!)

1. This man wears the best of all possible wigs, and he wears it well. Leibniz did everything—mathematics, linguistics, philosophy, logic, engineering, law, natural science—you name a topic, he probably dabbled in it. Polymathy is hot, and so are ostentatious wigs.

Eye candy AND brain candy.

2. Anyone who knows me knows that I think Voltaire is the sexiest man ever to live. I slobbered all over Candide when I first read it, and I see it as a proof of God that such wit could be combined with such good looks.

He can satire his way into my heart any day.

3. It feels fundamentally wrong to me to have Leibniz and Newton inhabiting the same list, but you have to admit—the guy looks badass. Setting aside the calculus issue, there are very few things Newton can’t take at least some credit for in the world of science. Plus, he shoved a darning needle behind his eye and moved it around to see if it distorted his vision. That’s dedication.

“I am the CALCULATOR…I will divide you by zero!”

4. Hume has a very confident look about him. And why shouldn’t he? After all, he did—single-handedly—take down the notions of induction and causation. And he did it while looking good. That jacket looks very sexy on him.

The missing shade of awesome.

5. I don’t know much about this attractive young man named d’Alembert, but he apparently studied vibrating strings, which sounds (no pun intended) really cool. He did argue, incorrectly, that the probability of a coin landing heads increased with each time it landed tails, but since that seems like common sense to most people, I can respect that.





People, I just witnessed the best video on YouTube, and all I did was type “Leibniz” into the search bar.

In a sentence: high-schoolers + video camera + Newton-Leibniz controversy over calculus = AMAZING HILARITY. There’s even a Sparta reference!! And that feather boa (I think that’s what it is) is by no means an exaggeration of Leibniz’ wig.

You probably didn’t laugh nearly as hard as I did, but this is my blog, and thus I deem it appropriate for me to post things that cater to my specific humor. Such things as this.

Since my initial viewing of it, it has been watched 15 times and has been favorited. And posted on Facebook.

I should probably stop searching for Leibniz on the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I find some really funny stuff (for instance, last night I typed in “action Leibniz” in Google and found this, hence the MSN name change), but I probably annoy you all with my constant “Leibniz this” and “Leibniz that”…oh well.

Alliteration’s Almost Always Appropriate

I’m sorry, but I must address this issue, as I had a dream about it mere hours ago (it’s like 10 AM) and if it’s infiltrated my dreams, it must be important to me.

So as I’ve stated, I’m reading The Calculus Wars. In the blog about said book, I briefly mentioned the fact that the book used the word “invented” to describe how calculus came about. As I read on, though, the author appears to switch randomly between the words “invented” and “discovered.”
As confused as I was at the beginning over this, I’m more confused now, mainly because I’m not sure which word should really be used. Really, what sounds more accurate?
If we say that Newton and Leibniz discovered calculus, that basically means that there is some sort of preexisting system of mathematics that humans are in the process of unlocking.
But if we say that they invented calculus, then it just seems kind of strange that they were able to just invent something with such mathematical power to explain all the things it explains.
But then again, I find it rather suspicious that human beings have developed these systems called “numbers” and “math” and they somehow magically explain the workings of the universe (velocity, the speed of light, rate of acceleration, etc.). I mean, don’t you find it the least bit suspicious that we can explain these things using simple formulas? It makes sense that the universe is ordered in some fashion, I just find it kind of odd that we’ve managed to gain possession of something that seems to be able to explain the patterns. It seems too easy, you know what I’m saying?


What if it’s all arbitrary?


(See, this is why I want to take freaking Metaphysics)

It’s a Vast Dessert Conspiracy!


This hadn’t even crossed my mind. This hadn’t even entered my thought processes even remotely, even after listening to Brian Regan’s rant on Fig Newtons today.

Freaking go here and read the comments if at first you don’t get it (I didn’t).




Can it possibly be that the two great, independent inventors of calculus are both represented in tasty dessert form?

Answer: YES!


Fig Newtons were indeed named after good ol’ Isaac, who, according to Wikipedia, “liked figs” (not nearly as entertaining a story as the one behind Choco Leibniz, but interesting nonetheless).
What’s even freakier is the fact that both cookies were developed independently of each other in the SAME FREAKING YEAR (1891).
I think the one and only way to resolve the “who invented calculus first” debate is to find out once and for all whose tasty delight was created first. Unfortunately, the Fig Newtons website is entirely uninformative, and Bahlsen’s website (the company that makes the Chocos), while delightfully entertaining due to their obvious knowledge of Flash, has nothing informative, either.

So I guess the debate can’t be solved. At least by me tonight.


But wow…that’s really funny, don’t you think?