STANFORD — What’s this tree hiding?

A sapling on the Stanford campus is heir to scientific aristocracy, the descendant of the tree that legend says inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation. Every day, this leafy apple tree witnesses the daily comings and goings of our next generation of deep thinkers.

But its identity is shielded by the university, fearing vandalism by Newton fans or gravity groupies.

Such protection is not unlike the stealthy steps taken to protect other special creatures, such as endangered plants and rare birds. Increasingly, nature needs privacy — as our enthusiasm for sharing a discovery can have dangerous consequences.

Stanford’s “Newton Tree” is young, just six inches in diameter and standing barely seven feet tall.

What it lacks in size and grandeur, it makes up in the symbolism

Its roots can be traced back to the tree that inspired an epiphany: a “Flower of Kent” specimen tree that lived in the garden of the mother of Sir Isaac Newton. That ancient tree lives on what’s now the grounds of Woolsthorpe Manor, in the English county of Lincolnshire.

In 1666, according to legend, Cambridge University closed due to an outbreak of bubonic plague, so student Newton was sent home. He was sitting …read more

Source:: East Bay – Science


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