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How to teach Isaac Newton the standard model and cosmology

  1. Nov 17, 2007 #1
    You are given a chance to fly back in time with no worry over changing history in bad ways. Knock knock and you enter a college looking for famous Isaac Newton, age 45, in person.

    He's a real fun in every way - mechanics, theory of gravity, celestial mechanics, calculus, the queen. Also he believes he is one of the chosen people to decode the bible code, to unravel how divine force is occasionally repairing and maintaining the solar system, etc.

    What I wonder is this. Given all the power you have attained in the 21st century what would you choose, in what order more precisely to explain to mr Newton about what universe really is? Ultimately what is interesting to say anyways?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2007 #2


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    I would give my ticket to Carlo Rovelli and ask him to go instead of me. He has studied how great physicists thought and came to their discoveries. I think he could talk best to Newton (or to Galileo---he speaks both English and Italian) and his imagination is good enough that he could probably say right now how he would carry on the conversation.

    It would be very dangerous to approach Newton in person, because he was a superstitious man who believed in angels and devils and stuff---perhaps he suffered from some mental problems. He might easily call the police if Carlo actually came to visit in person, or want to have him burned at the stake.

    But Carlo would cleverly take lodging in London, in a nice part of town with coffeehouses and foreigners and amusing people. And from his address in London he would WRITE LETTERS to Newton, claiming to be a visitor from Russia who did not know Latin and had necessarily to correspond in his outlandish version of English that he learned from his French governess.

    They would have a correspondence in English and it would be interesting to read.
    After about 20 letters had been exchanged Carlo would bundle up the letters from Newton, and copies of his own, and run for the time machine.

    The mission would be universally hailed as a great success.
  4. Nov 18, 2007 #3


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    Marcus, you must burn your DVD of the Da Vinci Code now, and promise not to buy another.
  5. Nov 18, 2007 #4


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  6. Nov 18, 2007 #5
    How about send Ed Witten instead. They would be a match as both are/were the greatest in their time. Infact Witten has been compared to Newton before.
  7. Nov 18, 2007 #6
    Tell him that we've completely unlocked the mysteries surrounding alchemy.
  8. Nov 18, 2007 #7
    Newton after discovering calculus, and his laws of mechanics delved deeply into mysticism, and tried to crack codes in the bible for the rest of his life. He actually might have become very paranoid. You would actually have to make contact prior his serious bible studies. I would just mail him a laser pointer and tell him where I live. He would find me.
  9. Nov 18, 2007 #8
    I must immediately accept the alchemical proposal since, it is a definitive way to do the social talk.

    200 years older Einstein is still completely believable. I could try some "mind experiments" with Newton. He knows about the speed of light, he could know the full math of gravitational potential (field).

    If I would start with "universe as we know it is made through some simple rules and applied natural constants..." I get a little lost.
  10. Nov 18, 2007 #9
    I completely forgot about universe expansion and Hubble' law! Also the nucleosynthesis and spiral galaxies (in reverse order).

    You know this is amazing that we should be able to bring back 20th century to 18th century and present it somehow. Faith ought not be a problem.
  11. Nov 18, 2007 #10


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    Just as marcus said - :rofl:

    Or what about going back in time and teaching Aristotle or Democritus about QM. Oh - wait - they were before calculus.

    Wouldn't it be easier to bring those guys forward in time and do a colloquium with all the various contemporary physicists.

    Might as well invite Einstein, Galileo, Archimedes, . . . .
  12. Nov 19, 2007 #11
    I'd love to read Newton's blog. We could also create one for Hooke, and enjoy them take each other apart.
  13. Nov 19, 2007 #12
    As much as I read - a couple of books plus tv, live talks - it seems that Hooke figured it all out - first in a sense. Later it seems that though gains certain idealism and aspiration.

    I feel that empowered with 21st century I'd be glad to entertain Newton, but I think about simplifying what is today officially the "model".

    All around there are theories trying to convince us anything - but why. Here's Newton and here is you: knock yourself out. :-)
  14. Jan 4, 2010 #13
    [​IMG] Thanks your words are great and it briefly discribe some of Isaac Newton as a astonishing human. Thanks.:smile:
  15. Jan 4, 2010 #14
    I like to ask him about his way of life when he was a boy, and how do things look from his view!
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