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The Sins of Isaac Newton

Aside from founding classical mechanics — think universal gravitation and laws of motion, laying the building blocks of calculus, and inventing the reflecting telescope Isaac Newton made time for spiritual pursuits. In fact, Newton was a highly religious individual (though a somewhat unorthodox Christian).

So, although Newton is best remembered for his monumental work, PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he kept a lesser known, but no-less detailed journal of his sins while a freshman at Cambridge. A list of Newton’s most “heinous” self-confessed, moral failings follows below.

[div class=attrib]From io9:[end-div]

10. Making a feather while on Thy day.

Anyone remember the Little House series, where every day they worked their prairie-wind-chapped asses off and risked getting bitten by badgers and nearly lost eyes to exploding potatoes (all true), but never complained about anything until they hit Sunday and literally had to do nothing all day? That was hundreds of years after Newton. And Newton was even more bored than the Little House people, although he was sorry about it later. He confesses everything from making a mousetrap on Sunday, to playing chimes, to helping a roommate with a school project, to making pies, to ‘squirting water’ on the Sabbath.

9. Having uncleane thoughts words and actions and dreamese.

Well, to be fair, he was only a boy at this time. He may have had all the unclean thoughts in the world, but Newton, on his death bed, is well known for saying he is proudest of dying a virgin. And this is from the guy who invented the Laws of Motion.

8. Robbing my mothers box of plums and sugar.

Clearly he needed to compensate for lack of carnal pleasure with some other kind of physical comfort. It seems that Newton had a sweet tooth. There’s this ‘robbery.’ There’s the aforementioned pies, although they might be savory pies. And in another confession he talks about how he had ‘gluttony in his sickness.’ The guy needed to eat.

7. Using unlawful means to bring us out of distresses.

This is a strange sin because it’s so vague. Could it be that the ‘distresses’ were financial, leading to another confessed sin of ‘Striving to cheat with a brass halfe crowne.’ Some biographers think that his is a sexual confession and his ‘distresses’ were carnal. Newton isn’t just saying that he used immoral means, but unlawful ones. What law did he break?

6. Using Wilford’s towel to spare my own.

Whatever else Newton was, he was a terrible roommate. Although he was a decent student, he was reputed to be bad at personal relationships with anyone, at any time. This sin, using someone’s towel, was probably more a big deal during a time when plague was running through the countryside. He also confesses to, “Denying my chamberfellow of the knowledge of him that took him for a sot.”

And his sweet tooth still reigned. Any plums anyone left out would probably be gone by the time they got back. He confessed the sin of “Stealing cherry cobs from Eduard Storer.” Just to top it off, Newton confessed to ‘peevishness’ with people over and over in his journal. He was clearly a moody little guy. No word on whether he apologized to them about it, but he apologized to God, and surely that was enough.

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[div class=attrib]Image courtesy of Wikipedia.[end-div]