Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Newton Day!

I could write an extensive post explaining why I would very much like to live somewhere that had never heard of Christmas. Suffice it to say that, as someone who's a "recovering Christian," and as someone who's sickened by the blatant materialism of Christmas that so many seem to be blind to, simply ignoring it doesn't seem to be quite enough. So, for those of you who have similar feelings, I offer an alternative: Newton Day.

I got this idea from the writer of a blog I follow, Off the Hook Astronomy. She made a post about this last year at this time, and I thought it was brilliant. I found her term of "Newtonmas" a bit cumbersome, and it reminds one of "Christmas". So I decided to go with "Newton Day." I think she explained the concept very well, so I'll quote her here:
I ... subscribe to a much more scientific belief system .... Therefore, this year I've decided to celebrate Newtonmas. Isaac Newton, considered by many to be the father of modern Physics, was born on Christmas day in 1642. There was some confusing stuff going on with dates back then, and so according to our modern calendar, his birthday is on January 4th, but since the calendar back then said it was December 25th, I think I'll stick with that one for the sake of the holiday.

Newton is most famous for discovering the Law of Gravitation by showing that the same force which causes objects to fall towards the ground also governs the motion of the planets around the sun. However, he is also credited with inventing calculus (though Leibniz also gets credit for that), building the first reflecting telescope, discovering that light is made up of many different colors, and much more. He was also very religious and a practitioner of alchemy. He might also have been a bit of a jerk.

Anyway, to properly celebrate Newtonmas, I will be doing the following:
  • Eating an apple
  • Singing some Newtonmas carols
  • Shining light through a prism to watch it split into a rainbow
  • Doing some calculus problems
  • Dropping stuff on the ground
In addition to these fun activities, I also recommend learning something new (and scientific) today. We're very fortunate to live in a time where we can find real answers to our questions. We don't have to rely on superstition. I'm very thankful for that!

Happy Newton Day!

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