Newton’s apple tree may take ‘root’ in India!

The IUCAA is on an ambitious mission to graft a Newton tree shoot

New Delhi: Sir Isaac Newton’s iconic apple tree, which is believed to have inspired the British physicist to propose the theory of gravity nearly 350 years ago and holds a special place in the annals of science, may soon have a descendant in India to inspire the next generation of scientists.

The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune is on an ambitious mission to graft a Newton tree shoot on Indian apple trees growing in its courtyard, said its director Somak Raychaudhury.

“Everybody thought that it would be a wonderful thing to grow the trees, especially since so much astronomy is rooted in Newton’s thinking. Like the tale of Adam and Eve, the origin of physics also has an apple,” he said.

Attempts worldwide to grow Newton trees

  • Clones and descendants of the tree have reached many countries of the world, with a genetically identical tree growing at Newton’s alma mater, Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • People have tried growing trees far and wide from the temperate, shady garden in Newton’s home in Lincolnshire, England.
  • One such effort was made in 1997 by Jayant V Narlikar. The visual incongruence of Newton beneath a banyan rather than an apple tree spurred Narlikar to act.
  • Between 1997 and 2007, there were three attempts made to grow Newton’s Apple Tree. There were some trees which were successful and grew apples.

Sir Isaac Newton and the apple tree

  • The account of Newton discovering the principle of gravity by observing the fall of an apple is very well known and usually dismissed as apocryphal.
  • The first written account appears in notes on the pioneering physicist’s life collected by Cambridge student John Conduitt in 1726, the year Newton died.
  • In 1665, Newton wondered what force could pull objects in a straight line towards the Earth. It was the first step towards his theory of gravity.
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