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Isaac Newton’s Holiday Countup

On Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel counts up toward the birthday of that most holy of men: Sir Isaac Newton. Each day Orzel will (hopefully) unveil a new gem that didn’t make it into his exciting new book. On Day 1, Chad wrote about the apocryphal moment of inspiration—in a bathtub—that led the Greek polymath Archimedes to first exclaim “Eureka!” And for Day 2, Orzel considers the scientific origin of art among prehistoric peoples in southern Africa. He writes, “The pigment-grinding process wasn’t a simple thing that might happen by accident, but a multi-step process, involving grinding then mixing with animal fat to make a kind of paste. The ochre and goethite used for this come from deposits some distance away, so they had to be deliberately selected and brought there.” Which begs the question: if ancient peoples could think so scientifically, why can’t many modern politicians and moneygrubbers? Even small children can think scientifically. Everyone can think scientifically! That is our future and our true human heritage.