Posted in Science & Nature

Newton’s Apple

Common belief is that Newton discovered gravity after an apple dropped on his head. Although there is no historical evidence to support this myth, it has become a popular story. There are two common responses to this story: the first is “Wow, Newton was a smart cookie” and the second is “Pfft, I could have discovered gravity without an apple, it is such an easy thing.”

The latter group of people are idiots. Newton did not “discover” gravity. Human beings have known that objects fall to the ground since the dawn of time and have utilised it in ways ranging from sports to killing other people by crushing them with giant rocks. Even animals know of the concept as seen by eagles dropping turtles on rocks to crack the shell. In fact, if you could not figure that out, then you would really be an idiot.

The reason why Newton is famous is not because he found that apples fall from trees, it is because he observed the phenomenon, noting that it was always perpendicular to the ground, which in combination with the knowledge that the Earth is round suggests that objects tend to fall towards the centre of the Earth. Again, Newton’s brilliance was not that he simply observed an apple falling, it was that he pondered it and spent years researching it until he discovered the way gravity behaves. He devised formulas to estimate how gravity functions, even applying it to predict how the moon orbits around the Earth. Thanks to Newton, we are able to model the world around us and send rockets to the moon without launching our astronauts in to the depth of space with no hope of recovery. 

Interestingly, physicists still do not know what causes gravity. There are many theories, such as particles called gravitrons attracting two objects to each other. Although the mathematics of two objects attracting each other has been accurately calculated, it is unknown what causes it. Only after you discover the truth behind how gravity functions can you say that “I could have discovered gravity in my sleep” (actually, even then you probably spent decades just trying to grasp the concept).

Before you criticise, know what you are criticising. 

Posted in History & Literature


Apples are strewn throughout history and mythology, acting as a key component of human societies. Its symbolism ranges from the sin of Adam and Eve to the love of Aphrodite. Let us look at some apples that have made a significant impact in the world – real or mythical.

Apple of Temptation: According to the bible, Eve is tempted by the snake to take the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. By taking from the tree and eating this fruit (then sharing it with Adam), the two are banished from the Garden of Eden and humanity is cursed to live in the harsh world and for women to suffer the pain of childbirth. Although the bible never defines the forbidden fruit as an apple, artistic depictions during the Renaissance has solidified the idea. The eponymous Adam’s apple (the lump on men’s necks) is said to be a piece of the apple being stuck in Adam’s throat.

Apple of Discord: According to Greek mythology, Eris (goddess of discord) threw a golden apple into a wedding after not being invited to it. The apple was inscribed with the message: “For the fairest one” and Hera, Athena and Aphrodite all claimed the apple was for them. Eventually, the judgement was delegated to Paris, prince of Troy. Each goddess bribed him with power, strength and love respectively but Paris eventually chose Aphrodite and in return, received the most beautiful woman in the world – Helen of Sparta. This sparked the great Trojan War, resulting in the destruction of Troy by the Greek alliance.

Apple of Love: Atalanta (Greek mythology) was a beautiful woman who had sworn virginity to the goddess Artemis. To avoid marriage, she challenged suitors to a footrace and only the winner would take her hand in marriage (the rest were killed). A man named Hippomenes went to Aphrodite’s temple to seek advice and was given three golden apples. He used the apples to distract Atalanta during the race by tossing it near her. This allowed him to win the race and ultimately took Atalanta’s hand in marriage. This story also shows how the ancient Greeks saw apples as a symbol of love, as evidenced by the gesture of one throwing an apple to the person they are in love with. Catching the apple was accepted as a sign of reciprocity.

Apple of Challenge: One of Hercules’ twelve challenges was to take the Golden Apples of Hesperides, protected by Ladon, a dragon with a hundred heads. Hercules bargained with Atlas to hold the Earth while he retrieved it. Atlas tried to walk away free from his damned task, but Hercules tricked him by asking to hold the Earth while he shifted his cloak.

Apple of Death: In the fairy tale, Snow White, the evil queen uses a poisonous apple to murder Snow White. The symbolism of the apple is similar to the biblical story mentioned above. Despite the dwarves warning her about stranger danger, Snow White takes the gift of a stranger without enough caution and suffers the consequences. However, she is resurrected by the kiss of the prince. Perhaps Aphrodite’s apple of love counters the evil apple of death and sin.

Apple of Revolution: A famous Swiss folklore describes how William Tell had to shoot an apple from his son’s head with his crossbow as punishment for not submitting to the occupying Austrians’ leader, Gessler. Being an expert marksman, he successfully hit his target instead of killing his son. When he was questioned why he drew two bolts from his quiver, Tell replied that he was aiming to shoot Gessler if he accidentally killed his son. This infuriated Gessler, who arrested William Tell. However, Tell escaped and went on to lead the revolution against the oppressors, aiding in the liberation of Switzerland (according to the legend).

Apple of Philosophy: There is a record of a young Martin Luther (who founded the protestant church) writing in his diary: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”. The philosophy behind this saying is not that gardening is important. Here, Luther is saying that we should live every day as if it is the last day. Live without regrets. Besides, would we not look silly if the world did not end and we had wasted a day panicking and doing absolutely nothing productive?

Apple of Knowledge: The story of how Isaac Newton devised the theory of gravity after being hit on the head with an apple is a famous story. Although the “hitting on the head” part is dubious, evidence suggests that he used apples falling from a tree as an example of how gravity works. Although the concept of gravity was already established, Newton focussed on how apples always fell perpendicular to the ground and deduced that objects have a gravitational pull on other objects (as the Earth pulls the apple and vice versa). He extrapolated from the apple to discover how Earth’s gravitational field controls the orbit of the Moon. Thus, it can be said that apples played a “crucial” role in the advancement of modern physics (although Newton probably did not need the apples for his theory).

Apple of Innovation: In 1976, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Inc. to develop the first personal computer. The company would go on to revolutionise mainstream digital technology by coming up with innovative products such as the iPod. Steve Jobs was the face of this new wave of innovation; with his bold outlook on the future and powerful leadership he made Apple Inc. one of the most successful companies in the 21st century. Jobs successfully popularised many pieces of technology, such as personal computers, portable music players and tablet PCs. Interestingly, he came up with the logo and name of the company after seeing a cartoon of Newton and his apple. Perhaps Jobs was seeking to create a company that would be one of the many “apples” that were turning points in history.

Posted in Life & Happiness

Life And Death

“No one wants to die.
Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.
And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.
And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.
Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.
Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.”

~ Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.

Posted in History & Literature

Judgement Of Paris

This is the story of how one man’s choice lead to a great war.

One day, Zeus held a banquet to celebrate a marriage, but did not invite Eris, the goddess of discord, for obvious reasons. Infuriated, she came up with a cunning plan, in which she arrived at the banquet, tossed a golden apple at the crowd, and disappeared.
On the apple, it was inscribed: For the fairest one.

Three goddesses approached the apple, claiming that it belonged to them: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They demanded that Zeus be the judge of who was the fairest, but Zeus knowing it was a catch-22 delegated the task to a mortal: Paris of Troy. This shepherd-prince was approached by each goddess, who offered a bribe using their godly powers.
Hera, the queen of gods, offered to make him the king of Eurasia, symbolising power and wealth.
Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, offered great strength and wisdom.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, offered the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen of Sparta.

After some thought, Paris presented the apple to Aphrodite, giving her the title of the “fairest one”. This earned him not only the beautiful Helen – who became infatuated with him under Aphrodite’s powers and brought to Troy – but also the scorn of the other two goddesses. Using their influences, and the fact that Helen was the wife of Menelaus – king of Sparta – the Trojan War sparked as Sparta formed a Greek alliance force to attack Troy, to reclaim their queen and seek vengeance and blood.

This goes to show how a man’s life, or his nation in the case of Paris, can be destroyed by the basic instinct of lust.