Lost Newton manuscript rediscovered at Royal Society

NwtA collection of notes by Sir Isaac Newton, thought by experts to be lost
forever, have recently been rediscovered during cataloguing at the Royal Society
and go on display to the public for the first time next week at the Royal
Society’s Summer Science Exhibition.
The notes are written about alchemy, which some scientists in Newton’s
time believed to hold the secret for transforming base metals, such as lead,
into the more precious metals of gold or silver. Much of the text consists of
Newtons notes on the work of another alchemist of the seventeenth century,
Frenchman Pierre Jean Fabre. But one page of the notes presents a more
intriguing prospect it offers what may be Newton’s own thoughts on alchemy,
written almost entirely in English and in his own handwriting.
Although the notes were originally uncovered following Newton’s death
in 1727, they were never properly documented and were thought to be lost
following their sale for £15 at an auction at Sotheby’s in July 1936. During the
cataloguing of the Royal Society’s Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection the
notes were discovered and, with the help of Imperial College’s Newton Project,
were identified as being the papers which had disappeared nearly 70 years
The notes reflect a part of Newton’s life which he kept hidden from
public scrutiny during his lifetime, in part because the making of gold or
silver was a felony and had been since a law was passed by Henry IV in 1404.
Newton is famous for his revolutionary work in many areas including mathematics
and the fields of optics, gravity and the laws of motion. However, throughout
his career he, and other scientists of the time, many of whom were Fellows of
the Royal Society, carried out extensive research into alchemy.

The Royal Society

[Thanks John]

Congratulations !

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