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

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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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Courtesy Murdoch University
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Gregory H. Revera, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Study Suggests There's Water Beneath the Moon's Surface
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Gregory H. Revera, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Astronauts may not need to go far to find water outside Earth. As CNN reports, Brown University scientists Ralph E. Milliken and Shuai Li suspect there are significant amounts of water churning within the Moon’s interior.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, lean on the discovery of glass beads encased in the Moon’s volcanic rock deposits. As recently as 100 million years ago, the Earth’s moon was a hotbed of volcanic activity. Evidence of that volatile time can still be found in the ancient ash and volcanic rock that’s scattered across the surface.

Using satellite imagery, the researchers identified tiny water droplets preserved inside glass beads that formed in the volcanic deposits. While water makes up a small fraction of each bead, its presence suggests there’s significantly more of it making up the Moon’s mantle.

Milliken and Li aren't the first scientists to notice water in lunar rocks. In 2008, volcanic materials collected from the Moon during the Apollo missions of 1971 and 1972 were revealed to contain the same water-flecked glass beads that the Brown scientists made the basis of their recent study. They took their research further by analyzing images captured across the face of the Moon and quickly saw the Apollo rocks represented a larger trend. "The distribution of these water-rich deposits is the key thing," Milliken said in a press statement. "They're spread across the surface, which tells us that the water found in the Apollo samples isn't a one-off. Lunar pyroclastics seem to be universally water-rich, which suggests the same may be true of the mantle."

The study challenges what we know about the Moon's formation, which scientists think occurred when a planet-sized object slammed into the Earth 4.5 billion years ago. "The growing evidence for water inside the Moon suggests that water did somehow survive, or that it was brought in shortly after the impact by asteroids or comets before the Moon had completely solidified," Li said. "The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question."

The findings also hold exciting possibilities for the future of space travel. NASA scientists have already considered turning the Moon into a water station for astronauts on their way to Mars. If water on the celestial body is really as abundant as the evidence may suggest, figuring out how to access that resource will definitely be on NASA's agenda.

[h/t CNN]


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