Isaac Newton – A Newtiful Mind

Original Air Date: July 31, 2004

At The Movies With Ebert & Roeper reviews and shows clips from the new biographical film, ‘A Newtiful Mind.”” We learn how the mathematical and scientific genius spent most of his life working on biblical prophecy, and died a virgin.

This episode centers on Isaac Newton and the time he spent at Cambridge. Isaac started to form concepts that would be the basis for today’s calculus theories as well as other concepts that were, well, a bit odd.

YouTube Transcript

Welcome to History Bites I’m Rick Green. When we think of progress we think of the future, but in Europe in the 1600s
going forward meant looking backwards.
Back then people had rediscovered the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans and they couldn’t get enough of this
retro culture, even the man who laid the foundations for modern science Isaac Newton was caught up in this Greek nostalgia. 

He figured the ancients had
powerful secret knowledge in fact his view of ancient Greece was kind of like how some modern New Agers look at Atlantis.

Newton who’s known for his
accurate theories of gravity and light and for creating calculus actually spent most of his time trying to decipher ancient writings in astrology religion alchemy and he was pursuing mysteries like how to turn base metals into gold.
So let’s go back to 1699 and take a look at the odd life of an eccentric genius using something that can turn the basis
things into gold, television.
as you can
see this movie is derivative sexist and
boring so I have to give poxy strumpets
a thumbs down well I gave it an
enthusiastic thumbs up yes
I thought the actors turned a derivative
movie into a fine entertaining look at
the life of a tavern wench thumbs up
from me to our next movie is a neuticle
mind I look at the life of mathematician
and scientist Isaac Newton take a look
at this scene where the brilliant but
eccentric Isaac Newton has just arrived
at Cambridge University on a servant
it’s an infinite number of rectangles
but it’s finite some planet something
ireumi your Newton yeah yes have you are
my clothes yet no not nothing
not not yet no no sad you’re supposed to
be here as my servant my lonely room
eighty get it sir but that’s bloody
funny it’s all this stuff mr. Newton
well um you see sir Bearington that this
here’s my work on optics these
calculations show that white light is
not made up of just a single color
what’s all this mess on my window clean
it up right come clean just finished
taking down these notes first sure and
I’ll tell you what seems how it all came
out of your head why don’t we put them
back in there a point of a renaissance
is to rediscover what people knew not
make up new stuff and as you can see the
real problem with this film a neuticle
mind is the subject mathematics it just
doesn’t add up to a compelling film math
is not number one it subtracts from the
film while multiplying the problems well
it’s funny you’d say that because one of
the things I liked about this film was
the way in which it makes obscure and
dry mathematics central to the act yes
that really was clever wasn’t it you
know it may take a look at this next
scene where a hopeful graduate student
Isaac Newton is trying to make his mark
on the mathematical world Newton is
trying to impress Hook and boil made-up
characters and it’s these fictional
characters that I think absolutely
Robert Hooke and Robert Boyle are real
scientists famous further discoveries
about gases air pressure breathing and
living cells yes
Nutan you might want to stop rustling
your parchments for five seconds I will
not buy you gentlemen cider well we’re
not here for side of my friend look over
lusty wench has just entered this very
air house it’s every man for himself
gentlemen recall the love lessons of
dawn warn whoever strikes out will be
Quapaw she’s looking this way
she regards our Newton with a loving
look ah she has eyes for Isaac
gentlemen your theories need revision
what are you talking about if we all
pursue the lusty wench we will block
each other and none of us will bed the
lass so then we all go after hypocrisy
France but the parks of friends don’t
want to be a second choice for our love
and they will also reject us but what if
none of us pursues the lusty wench what
if we all just go off on to our own
rooms and pray to God for deliverance we
will be spared temptation and probably
the pox
that’s the only way we all win the best
result will come when everyone does
what’s best for himself and what’s best
for God that flies in the face of a
hundred years of wenching theory it’s
lunacy no worse it’s celibacy at the
beginning of the Renaissance European
scholars and scientists came to the
conclusion that the ancient Greeks and
Romans had known everything worth
knowing so if you wanted to find out
something nobody knew you looked it up
on a dusty scroll Renaissance Minds
soaked up Socrates they played with
play-doh and they were put totally into
potala me but the guy at the top of the
heathen philosopher charts was Aristotle
looking for a decent education for your
14 year old son I’m Sally druthers and
if you had your druthers you’d send your
son to Cambridge University he’ll get a
complete education and all the latest no
knowledge it’s the key to success in
today 17th century world he’ll learn
rhetoric by Aristotle logic by Aristotle
science by Aristotle disputation by
Aristotle philosophy by eros
also drinking puking and whoring because
the best way to avoid disgusting habits
is to purge them from your system while
you’re young at Cambridge well Marcy
said Newton is nothing she says
Aristotle says things on earth obey
different rules from things in the sky
oh real yeah
things in the sky go in circles because
everything in the sky is a circle the
Sun and the moon and everything and
Aristotle said apples fall to earth
because the Apple has earth in it and
they want to get together oh gee in that
case your butt must have a lot of very
common I like to say a few prayers while
I’m waiting for my base metals to turn
to gold it’s important to remember that
good alchemy requires not only pure
ingredients saltpeter sulfur mercury and
so on also a pure soul and let’s take a
look at the finished product really
coming along nicely the sulfur seems to
be going and here’s some gold I made
earlier the idea of home dentistry seems
a bit scary right well of course it’s
best to go to an expert like myself for
the quickest treatment but to be quite
honest there’s really nothing I can do
that you can’t do at home by yourself we
see that as Isaac Newton’s intellect
grows it also descends deeper into
obsession and even madness exactly
ultimately this over-the-top weird stuff
didn’t quite work for me I disagree I
think the movie captures Newton’s later
obsessions with bizarre Biblical
prophecy Oh
after all he spent years of his life
writing thousands of pages on mystical
prophecy take a look at this next scene
where Newton now established as a
scientist and a professor is introduced
to darker secrets
well mr. blow then it looks like old
books Scrolls Latin ancient Greek ever
here for the Priscus Sapientia pris
Kassabian tia sure isn’t that the belief
that God gave the ancients all original
wisdom yeah
ancients knew all secrets secrets so
powerful we can only dream about it yes
but surely that wisdom was all forgotten
lost forever no not lost now God
wouldn’t let that happen
no it’s hidden away buried in ancient
folk tales and legends and forms that
most people wouldn’t recognize that’s
where you come in you see Isaac what
distinguishes you from the rest of the
Royal Society is that you have simply
put you are the best discoverer of
natural laws I’ve ever seen what exactly
is it that you would like me to do
commit this list of Legends to memory
scan it for secret messages from God
interpret it we discover the magical
secrets the Romans and Greeks know when
we return Newton explains the motion of
the planets and many turns into a space
in my last year of high school I was
about 32 I was struggling through a
calculus exam and it was becoming
increasingly apparent that I was not
gonna pass did I blame my brother for
practicing his guitar so loudly when
I’ve been trying to study
no did I blame my parents for not
ordering me to turn off the TV
no did I blame our dog for barking all
night and keeping me awake no because we
didn’t have a dog I knew exactly who was
responsible for my own situation Isaac
Newton the guy who invented calculus but
while Newton pursues his secret work he
must maintain an outward appearance of a
typical university professor I agree
personally I think this lecture will be
a waste of your and what is infinitely
worse my time however here we are so you
may attend on art you may complete
assignments at your whim now there any
questions anyone Bueller Isaac what are
you doing who are you talking to the
terms of my professorship oblige need to
deliver several lectures a year but
nobody ever shows up why are you
lecturing about what is in motion drawn
together a powerful attraction as he got
older Isaac went from being on the
cutting edge to being way way out there
of course his work in alchemy and
prophecy only sounds crazy now back in
the 1600s it was no more ridiculous than
a lot of other common beliefs the
problem is you got them Catholics coming
over here to England giving us the
plague and the call already to kill us
all seriously think the Catholics caused
the plane I thought it was the Spanish
what caused the plague
you stifle the Spanish do your caller on
your dropsy
but you plague that’s your catholics and
you know how they do it
oh I can’t wait for this pause write
simple me they they go out in the middle
of the night there and they sneak up to
a well or a river and they do their
magic and alchemy over oh yeah oh don’t
you be makin fun no magic their magics
in the Bible
London for innocent citizens have faced
two dangerous enemies the bubonic plague
when thousands died and the great fire
the city got
but London lives on her streets are busy
again citizens flock to the
entertainment district good folks are
enjoying all the pleasures that London
has to offer everywhere there is
activity trade is booming no more fear
of fire
no more plague now the only fear is of
me captain Puritan
if her daughter gives up being a
milkmaid and follows her dream by moving
to London now why does her Life Path
upset you I’m afraid she’ll become one
of those girls you mean a whore so
you’re afraid your daughter will become
a whore right a dog see a stroke that’s
what I’m afraid of
what about hammers or punching really
hard yes right well she the problem with
these is that you may take out more
teeth than you need to or even take some
other good teeth out and leave the bad
ones although I guess they’ll have to
come out sooner or later watch if magic
works how come nobody in England is
using it to turn lead into gold or to
live forever
you wanna know why is because you can
lose your Spanish and your Dutch are
using their magic to stop all magic from
working this is a new age it’s a major
reason exactly me and that’s the reason
why our magic ain’t working scientific
minds are working on magic and alchemy
right now you got your Newton there and
you boil
yeah tough on a temptress a naughty name
a solicitor a prostitute although they
may cause your breath to smell rank and
you can easily disguise that by chewing
cloves or parsley and the wonderful
thing about clothes is that they can
actually reduce the pain of an aching
tooth which again may get you a few more
months user wow this high-tech dentistry
is really something a morte a creature
of sale Hey pressors mattress candy
Newton Isaac’s loyal wife but her
character also came under fire from
purists who pointed out that the real
Newton doesn’t have a wife and in fact
has showed almost no interest in women
and has remained a virgin his whole life
and Roger as far as I’m concerned that’s
reason enough to give it a thumbs down
come on Richard it’s just a movie what
if you want the real Newton read a copy
of principia mathematica well I guess
rest of us just want to be entertained
not in light right and that’s my exact
point now take a look at this next scene
where Cindy Newton discovers that
instead of working on physics and
mathematics Isaac Newton has been
studying alchemy and magic oh my god
Isaac Isaac what’s coming up the only
guy in history who spent his life as a
virgin and bragged about it
the story about Newton being hit on the
head by an apple is a myth but it’s
based on the truth
Newton claimed the site of a falling
Apple made him wonder if the same
invisible force that pulled the Apple
might also pull on the moon holding it
in orbit too bad an apple to the head
would have explained a lot you are sick
you have to stop working on this
aromatic secret but I’ve got to work
I’ve got the works in there
hermes has a secret knowledge about I
must find the secret always Hermes a
Franklin came no no I mean Trismegistus
her mister thrice great author of
manuscripts on astrology magic alchemy
Isaac Hermes doesn’t exist it’s myth
legend please work on something else but
what not something anything discover the
way with the attraction between the
planets is governed by an inverse-square
law now I enjoyed the first half of a
neuticle mind which focused on Isaac
Newton the scientist his theories of
optics his discovery of calculus and his
theory of gravitation but once it got to
the second half the stuff about how his
fictional wife and fictional child
supported him and helped him recover
from a nervous breakdown and learn how
to turn land into gold well that just
lost me well I couldn’t not disagree
less I thought it was a beautiful love
story and it was just so touching the
way Cindy stood by him like that the
idea that someone has finally solved the
riddle of how to turn lead into gold is
uplifting it helps us understand the
goals of science yeah that that was nice
wasn’t it a prancing polecat
I’m afraid of that so become a work in
why shouldn’t she being a milkmaid she’s
had cow pox and that prevents smallpox
so she still has beautiful skin and in a
year or two she can come home and she
can settle down rich I’m nice skin
started with 450 players and now seven
hours into the match with injuries on
mr. Newton I’m here to tell you that you
are being considered for the job of
master of the Royal Mint forgive me I’m
just a little stunned
over the past few years your work in
calculus and gravity have become the
cornerstone of modern science suddenly
everybody likes those
well what about my work another some
such projects like rock alchemy and
turning base metals into gold yes reveal
an ancient hermetic secrets and
discovering the secrets of God the
application of your calculus to areas
such as planetary motion and with
ballistics it may even have applications
someday in fields such as fluid flow
fluid flow yes someday Oh see I never
would I never would have considered that
so I’m being considered for master than
make huh yes yes the workload is light
the salary is substantial you’ll never
have many problems again except of
course ensuring that there are no
problems with our money is it is it
enough workplace it’s a beautiful name
Isaac Newton is a genius who has spent
his life obsessed with the idea of
creating gold from base metals then at
the conclusion Newton is given the job
of master of the Royal Mint tracking
down criminals use base metals to create
fake coins yes it it was clever but
completely unbelievable but Richard that
part was true
no you mean true as in
true yes Isaac Newton is in charge of
the Royal Mint that’s what he does these
directors sir Ron Howard is saying to us
that the fabled Philosopher’s Stone is
not some hard object that turns base
metals into gold the real Philosopher’s
Stone has found inside ourselves and the
goal that makes is not metal it’s the
gold of love Newton’s work enabled later
scientists to discard the ancient Greek
philosophy and developed new far more
accurate and reliable ways of looking at
the world more than any other thinker he
lifted Europe out of a superstitious
medieval past and into a more scientific
future so it’s strange that Newton
himself remained immersed in ancient
philosophies until the end of his life
he wrote more than two million words on
alchemy and mystical theology that’s
about three Bibles worth of words all of
this writing is dismissed by scientists
today as utterly worthless the bulk of
his life’s work has ended up as just a
footnote in the pages of history and
history bytes and puerile and soon also
gave it a thumbs down our second film
poxy strumpets earned two enthusiastic
thumbs up from us we both felt it was a
body rippled an overwhelmingly
entertaining entertaining wrong yes and
finally a neuticle mind I thought this
was a wonderfully human film despite a
few lapses in reality I gave it two
thumbs way up and I gave it two thumbs
up to Richard you know I’m really
getting sick and tired of your constant
fawning and agreement me too