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Newton: MP, Alchemist and Spymaster

Sir Isaac Newton, famous for his laws of physics was also a fascinating character. His work on light and gravity are well known, but he had many other interests. He was also an alchemist (that is he tried to turn lead into gold).

Sir Isaac Newton, FRS
Copyright © The Royal Society

As Warden of the Royal Mint, he successfully foiled the counterfeiting and clipping of coins (that is trimming the edges to melt down the metal) that was so rife it threatened to bring down the economy at the time. This involved him organising the exchange of all the coins in the country for better designed ones: a task that required his enormous attention to detail and ability to improve the way tasks were done - skills that would have made him a great programmer. To deal with the counterfeiters, he set up a spy network worthy of Walsingham saying of his foes "Criminals, like dogs, always return to their vomit".

Newton was even a member of parliament in 1689, though he did not contribute at all. One anecdote suggests the only thing he said during the year was to ask for a window to be closed because of the draught. Your cats may also be using one of his inventions: Isaac Newton is reputed to have invented the cat flap...supposedly the result of kittens ruining his optics experiments.

Newton was also President of The Royal Society: the UKs most prestigious scientific organisation which amongst its many other activities puts on public events like the Summer Exhibition that Sodarace has exhibited at.

The Maze

The maze

Down the corridor is a projection room.