Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Plaque of the Week No.92

You've seen them all over the city: discs, tablets, cameos and plaques commemorating the great and the good of London Town. Every Tuesday we track down a London plaque (Blue or otherwise) and put it centre stage on the London Walks Blog. This week…





The achievements of Sir Isaac Newton are well documented and his discovery of the Laws of Gravity has become the stuff of legend.


Can there be such a thing as an iconic scientist? If so this man – along with Einstein – surely fits the bill. And as such he has been deployed as a plot device or character in a wide range of fiction – from The Da Vinci Code to Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

A quote attributed to him – “[If I have seen further it is by] Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” – is engraved into the British £2 coin.

In 2005 a survey taken among scientists of the Royal Society asked if Newton or Einstein had the greatest influence on the history of science. Newton came out in front.

If the principal qualification to be an “iconic scientist” is to be a scientist regarded highly by the scientific establishment as well as the layman public, then Newton’s claim is assured.

He resided on Jermyn Street (where you can find his plaque, pictured) and is interred at Westminster Abbey. Alexander Pope composed the following famous lines for his espitaph:

Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said "Let Newton be" and all was light.



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