Many people around you are commemorating the humble coming of Christ by extravagantly and wastefully observing pagan practices. What are you to do, lonely heathen? Fear not, you can commemorate the birth of Isaac Newton by celebrating Newtonmas! Here are a few tips on how to do it:
- Tell everyone that like Jesus, Newton wasn’t really born on Christmas Day. Although he was also born on Christmas Day. Wait, what? Well, it has something to do with some confusion between two calendars. When Isaac Newton was born, most of the world was already using the more accurate Gregorian calendar, which is the same calendar we are using up to this day. However the English, being English, were still using the old Julian calendar during the time of Newton’s birth, and in the Julian calendar little Isaac was born on the 25th of December, 1642. During the time, however, the Julian calendar was already off by more than a week so that in the Gregorian calendar, Newton’s birthday is actually January 4, 1643.
- Since it’s the season for Newton, buy your godchildren prisms as presents! Include little “research problems” that they can try to solve using the prisms. For example, you can ask them to convince their parents that when all the colors of the rainbow are combined, what you get is white light. In this way, they can reenact Newton’s experimentum crucis, which is not a Harry Potter spell but rather is one of the most beautiful and elegant experiments in science.
- If you’re feeling a little indulgent, buy yourself a Newtonian telescope and discover the beauties of heavenly bodies, both those in the sky and those living next door.
- Feeling the spirit of Newtonmas strong in you? Approach your little nephews and nieces and teach them a bit of Newtonian physics. Tell them about the three rules that obeyed by everything around us.
- First rule, things don’t budge when nothing budges them. In other words, unless an object is pushed or pulled, it will keep on moving the way it did. (If it wasn’t moving in the fist place, then it will keep on staying put.)
- Second rule, the heavier a thing is, the more you need to push or pull it in order to change the way it moves. Also, if you want to change how something moves more, then you must give it a stronger nudge.
- Third rule, when you kick something, it will always kick you back. And it will kick you back as strongly as you kicked it.
- Tell your nephews and nieces that remembering the above rules will help them avoid the following mistake:
- If you want in on Newton’s extreme eccentricity, you can try performing some of his more crazy-ass experiments. See the bodkin below? Newton stuck something similar into his eye socket and prodded his eye ball with it to study how images get formed in the human eye. I’m not kidding you, the guy was batshit crazy.
- Read the following passage to all your smart friends: “This chaos is called our arsenic, our air, our Luna, our magnase, our Calebs, but in diverse respect, because our matter undergoes various states before our regal diadem is extracted from the menstrual blood of our whore. So learn who the comrades of Cadmus are, and who the serpent who ate them, and what the hollow oak on which Cadmus transfixed the serpent! Learn what the doves of Diana are which conquer the lion by beating him.” This passage is from the alchemical tract The Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King, one of Newton’s favorite. Yes, even the smartest people can subscribe to the most unfounded beliefs. We should therefore be ever vigilant about the things we believe in. Newton’s example reminds us of the beauty of having no one person as absolute intellectual authority. In short, it helps us appreciate being a freethinker.
So there you go, a few holiday tips from one heathen to another. This Newtonmas, remember to give the gift of discovery to the people you love. And don’t forget to have a happy holiday!