Tuesday, January 19, 2010


APPLE   is a  very delicious fruit indeed.

The apple is the fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. The tree is small and deciduous. The tree originated from Central Asia, where its wild ancestor is still found today. It is grown in million tonnes – China produces 2/5th of this; US is the second leading producer. In US, more than 60% sold are commercially grown in Washington state. Newzealand exports huge quantity competing with US.

To an Insurer, apple fruit in transit may not be a great risk to insure.

The proverb "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," addressing the health effects of the fruit, dates from 19th century Wales. Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. The seeds are mildly poisonous, containing a small amount of amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside; usually not enough to be dangerous to humans, but it can deter birds.

Other than eating, apple is associated famously with Science. All of us have heard the story of ‘apple falling’.

A young Isaac Newton was sitting beneath an apple tree contemplating the mysterious universe. Suddenly -an apple fell on his head. While anybody else would have started eating the luscious fruit or would have damned the thing falling upon, the great Scientist understood the force that brought down the apple crashing to the ground; relating it to the moon  falling towards the Earth and the Earth falling toward the sun: Gravity.

The story of Newton's apple first appeared in Voltaire's Elements de la Philosophie de Newton, published in 1738, long after the great English mathematician had died and 73 years from the time the disputed apple fell. Voltaire admired Sir Isaac and his theories tremendously and offered a clear, insightful interpretation of his teachings. But his only source for the apple story was Sir Isaac's niece, Catherine Barton Conduitt, who had married one of her uncle's closest associates. She and her husband lived with and kept house for Newton in his declining years.

For long, scientists have debated this theory to be just another fable. It was claimed that Cambridge University closed down in the Summer of 1665 when the plague broke out. Newton, a student there, went home to Lincolnshire. He stayed home for two years while the disease ran its course in the area around London. The 23-year-old Newton spent that time studying and laying the foundations for his greatest work, the Principia. Newton didn't publish his Principia until 20 years later. But he formulated the Law of Universal Gravitation there in his Lincolnshire garden. He showed the world that what was true of apples and the earth was true of planets and moons as well.

All the debate would come to end soon as even common man can now see what Newton had actually said !!! Squirreled away in the archives of London's Royal Society was a manuscript containing the truth about the apple. It is the manuscript for what would become a biography of Newton entitled Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life written by William Stukeley, an archaeologist and one of Newton's first biographers, and published in 1752. Newton told the apple story to Stukeley, who relayed it as such:

Newton recounted the story that inspired his theory of gravitation to scholar William Stukeley. It then appeared in Stukeley's 1752 biography, Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life. The UK's Royal Society converted the fragile manuscript into an electronic book, which anybody with internet access will now be able to read.

The extract "After dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank tea, under the shade of some apple trees...he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasion'd by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself..."

The Royal Society has made the manuscript available now for the first time in a fully interactive digital form on their website at royalsociety.org/turning-the-pages. The digital release is occurring on the same day as the publication of Seeing Further (HarperPress, £25), an illustrated history of the Royal Society edited by Bill Bryson, which marks the Royal Society's 350th anniversary this year.

The Royal Society is the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, and has been at the forefront of enquiry and discovery since its foundation in 1660. It has a huge archive of science history material dating back to 1660. The archive includes material from historically significant events such as the early experiments to demonstrate Newton's Law of Gravity and Harvey's theories of circulation, as well as the drawings that Charles Darwin produced while he was developing the theory of evolution. They have created a "fully interactive" version of the manuscript, enabling people to turn its pages online.

Here are pages out of their archive.

So it turns out the apple story is true - for the most part. The apple may not have hit Newton in the head, but still made his gesticulate his famed theory. The fact also would remain that three and a half centuries and an Albert Einstein later, the full realm of gravity is yet
to be understood and more researches are on.

With regards – S Sampathkumar.



  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.