Isaac Newton's Secret Occult Papers Sell for $502K

They were scorched when his dog knocked over a candle
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2020 12:44 PM CST
Notes From Isaac Newton's Secret Research Sell for $502K
"Newton was not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians," John Maynard Keynes once said.   (Wikipedia/Godfrey Kneller)

(Newser) – Scorched notes from Sir Isaac Newton's secret research into ancient Egyptian mysteries appeared Wednesday not in a Da Vinci Code sequel, but at a Sotheby's auction, where they sold for $502,000. The British scientist and mathematician is considered the father of modern physics but the notes show his abiding interest in the occult and alchemy, the Guardian reports. In the papers, which date from the 1680s, he attempts to unlock codes he believed were hidden in the Bible and the Great Pyramid of Egypt, hoping to determine the exact length of the royal cubit. He believed the ancient unit of measurement would help him determine the circumference of the Earth and prove his theory of gravity.

Newton also hoped the cubit would help him reconstruct the biblical Temple of Solomon, allowing him to calculate the timing of the apocalypse predicted in the Bible, reports the Smithsonian. The depth of Newton's interest in alchemy and occult matters wasn't discovered until long after his death in 1727. The Sotheby's listing says it's no surprise that Newton never published any of this research, since "secrecy was a widely-held tenet of alchemical research, and Newton's theological beliefs, if made public, would have cost him (at least) his career." It adds that "Newton's papers suffered fire damage at a very early stage—legend has it that his dog, Diamond, jumped on a table and upset a candle." (Read more Isaac Newton stories.)

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