The tree where Isaac Newton discovered gravity is still alive and well outside of his childhood home

 
 
 
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The English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, Isaac Newton was born in 1664 according to the old calendar, and as many would say, he is the father of gravity.

Newton discovered gravity with a little help from an apple tree in his childhood home, Woolsthorpe Manor in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England.

Woolsthorpe Manor, Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, England. This house was the birthplace and the family home of Sir Isaac Newton. Photo Credit

The apple tree first put down roots around 400 years ago. It has been known for at least 240 years as the ‘gravity tree’ and it is shown to visitors as Isaac Newton’s apple tree, the tree from which an apple fell, making him wonder why apples always fall straight down to the ground.

He began to ask himself why everything always fell down, not sideways, or upwards, and came to the conclusion that there must be a power (today we call it force), that draws them. ‘How far would that power extend? Why not as far as the moon?’ he asked himself.

Portrait of Newton in 1689, by Godfrey Kneller. Photo Credit

It is a classical legendary story of science that is well known but there is truth in it. Later in life, Isaac told the story to his two biographers, and they recorded it in their writings and published the writings in 1752.

‘After dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank tea under the shade of some apple trees…he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notation of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasioned by the fall of an apple as he sat in a contemplative mood. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground”, thought he to himself…’

Whether or not the apple actually hit Isaac on the head is subject to conjecture, although modern-day cartoonists have adopted this particular version of events as their favorite.

The tree from which the famous apple is said to have fallen. Photo Credit

Today, the tree is taken care of regularly to keep it healthy so that it continues to grow and bear blossom and fruit. Also, a low barrier has been installed around it to protect the root run and give it some ‘breathing space’.

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The house Isaac grew up in, and new areas once private, have now been opened since 2003 and are available for tourist visits all year round.