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A Selection of 19-Year-Old Isaac Newton's Secret Sins

In 1662, a 19-year-old Isaac Newton started carrying a leather-bound journal, which he used to track finances and work out math problems. But he also used it to hide something secret. On two pages, Newton scribbled a cryptic code, a code that went unsolved for over 300 years. In 1964, historians finally solved the script. They discovered a list of sins: 57 of Newton’s wrongdoings. The journal—today called the Fitzwilliam notebook—paints the Enlightenment icon as a mood-swinging, sweet-toothed, spiritually confused teenager. Here are some of Newton’s sinful gems.

Sins of the Stomach

Newton had a guilty appetite: He brought apples to church, stole plums, and substituted prayer with pie.

• “Eating an apple at Thy house.”
• “Peevishness at Master Clarks for a piece of bread and butter.”
(When he was 12, Newton was sent to a boarding school for five years. He resided with William Clarke, an apothecary who ignited Newton’s interest in chemistry.)
• “Stealing cherry cobs from Eduard Storer." (Storer was Clarke’s stepson.)
• “Denying that I did so."
• “Robbing my mother[']s box of plums and sugar.”
• “Making pies on Sunday night.”

Sins of Abuse

Newton may have been a fisticuffs master: He was a fighter and a wee bit of a trickster.

• “Threat[e]ning my father and mother Smith to burne them and the house over them." (Newton shared a tense relationship with his mother and stepfather, Reverend Barnabas Smith.)
• “Wishing death and hoping it to some.”
• “Striking many.”
• “Beating Arthur Storer." (Arthur was Clarke’s other stepson, who later became America’s first colonial astronomer. Newton supposedly loved Arthur’s sister, Katherine.)
• “Punching my sister.”
• “Putting a pin in John Keys hat on Thy day to pick him.”
• “Calling Dorothy Rose a jade." (A “jade” was a “worn-out horse,” but when applied to women, it essentially meant “whore.”)

Sins on Sunday

Sometimes, Newton forgot that Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest, committing egregious Sunday sins like mousetrap-making and (tisk!) reading.

• “Making a feather while on Thy day.”
• “Denying that I made it.”
• “Making a mousetrap on Thy day.”
• “Contriving of the chimes on Thy day.”
• “Squirting water on Thy day.”
• “Swimming in a kimnel on Thy day.” (A kimnel was a tub, often for salting meat.)
• “Twisting a cord on Sunday morning.”
• “Reading the history of the Christian champions on Sunday.”

Miscellaneous Guilt Trips

Forget that image of Isaac Newton as a dainty mathematician in a powdered wig. Instead, think of him as a crossbow-wielding teenager who steals your bath towel and lies about the bugs in your hair.

• “Setting my heart on money learning pleasure more than Thee.”
• “A relapse.”
• “Denying my chamberfellow of the knowledge of him that took him for a sot.” (In Middle English, using the term "sot" was a stylish way to call someone a drunken fool.)
• “Using Wilford[']s towel to spare my own.”
• “Lying about a louse.”
• “Denying a crossbow to my mother and grandmother though I knew it.”

For the full list of Newton’s sins, visit the Newton Project, an archive of the scientist’s written work.

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Space
Mysterious 'Hypatia Stone' Is Like Nothing Else in Our Solar System
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In 1996, Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat discovered a tiny, one-ounce stone in the eastern Sahara. Ever since, scientists have been trying to figure out where exactly the mysterious pebble originated. As Popular Mechanics reports, it probably wasn't anywhere near Earth. A new study in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta finds that the micro-compounds in the rock don't match anything we've ever found in our solar system.

Scientists have known for several years that the fragment, known as the Hypatia stone, was extraterrestrial in origin. But this new study finds that it's even weirder than we thought. Led by University of Johannesburg geologists, the research team performed mineral analyses on the microdiamond-studded rock that showed that it is made of matter that predates the existence of our Sun or any of the planets in the solar system. And, its chemical composition doesn't resemble anything we've found on Earth or in comets or meteorites we have studied.

Lead researcher Jan Kramers told Popular Mechanics that the rock was likely created in the early solar nebula, a giant cloud of homogenous interstellar dust from which the Sun and its planets formed. While some of the basic materials in the pebble are found on Earth—carbon, aluminum, iron, silicon—they exist in wildly different ratios than materials we've seen before. Researchers believe the rock's microscopic diamonds were created by the shock of the impact with Earth's atmosphere or crust.

"When Hypatia was first found to be extraterrestrial, it was a sensation, but these latest results are opening up even bigger questions about its origins," as study co-author Marco Andreoli said in a press release.

The study suggests the early solar nebula may not have been as homogenous as we thought. "If Hypatia itself is not presolar, [some of its chemical] features indicate that the solar nebula wasn't the same kind of dust everywhere—which starts tugging at the generally accepted view of the formation of our solar system," Kramer said.

The researchers plan to further probe the rock's origins, hopefully solving some of the puzzles this study has presented.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

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Ocean Waves Are Powerful Enough to Toss Enormous Boulders Onto Land, Study Finds
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During the winter of 2013-2014, the UK and Ireland were buffeted by a number of unusually powerful storms, causing widespread floods, landslides, and coastal evacuations. But the impact of the storm season stretched far beyond its effect on urban areas, as a new study in Earth-Science Reviews details. As we spotted on Boing Boing, geoscientists from Williams College in Massachusetts found that the storms had an enormous influence on the remote, uninhabited coast of western Ireland—one that shows the sheer power of ocean waves in a whole new light.

The rugged terrain of Ireland’s western coast includes gigantic ocean boulders located just off a coastline protected by high, steep cliffs. These massive rocks can weigh hundreds of tons, but a strong-enough wave can dislodge them, hurling them out of the ocean entirely. In some cases, these boulders are now located more than 950 feet inland. Though previous research has hypothesized that it often takes tsunami-strength waves to move such heavy rocks onto land, this study finds that the severe storms of the 2013-2014 season were more than capable.

Studying boulder deposits in Ireland’s County Mayo and County Clare, the Williams College team recorded two massive boulders—one weighing around 680 tons and one weighing about 520 tons—moving significantly during that winter, shifting more than 11 and 13 feet, respectively. That may not sound like a significant distance at first glance, but for some perspective, consider that a blue whale weighs about 150 tons. The larger of these two boulders weighs more than four blue whales.

Smaller boulders (relatively speaking) traveled much farther. The biggest boulder movement they observed was more than 310 feet—for a boulder that weighed more than 44 tons.

These boulder deposits "represent the inland transfer of extraordinary wave energies," the researchers write. "[Because they] record the highest energy coastal processes, they are key elements in trying to model and forecast interactions between waves and coasts." Those models are becoming more important as climate change increases the frequency and severity of storms.

[h/t Boing Boing]

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