Descendent of legendary apple tree which helped Newton discover gravity to be planted at DMU

A graft from the apple tree under which Sir Isaac Newton was sitting when he discovered gravity is to be nurtured at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

The budding plant was taken from the ancient tree at Newton's birthplace at Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, and will be planted on campus at DMU to inspire a new generation of science lovers.

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The planting will mark 350 years since Newton's famous Year of Wonder in 1666, in which he made his most important mathematical and scientific discoveries, laying down the foundations for modern physics and paving the way for modern air and space flight.

It also marks the beginning of a new partnership between DMU and the National Trust's Woolsthorpe Manor, where Newton carried out some of his most valuable work.


According to legend, Sir Isaac was sitting under a Flower of Kent apple tree when one of the fruits fell, prompting him to conceive, for the first time in history, of a force which he called gravity.

It is from this very tree which DMU's new plant has been grafted.

Dr Angela O'Sullivan, Head of Widening Participation in DMU's Health and Life Sciences, has overseen the creation of the new partnership with Woolsthorpe Manor.

She said: "We chose Woolsthorpe to work with because we didn't know much about it and thought that maybe others didn't either. We wanted to help raise its profile and in doing so, inspire in others a love of science.

"We will have student volunteers visit the site, help with new web pages, and give feedback on new ideas and events they are planning there. This experience is a great confidence-builder for them and is very attractive to potential employers."

Physics student Alex Murray has volunteered to help with the museum.

He said: "What attracted me to studying physics was that you are at the forefront of human understanding. You can pave the way.

"What Newton discovered and the theories he put forward underpin almost everything we do. To be able to find ways to make his work and the work done by thousands of scientists since, relevant and exciting to people is really worthwhile."

Jannette Warriner, operations manager for Woolsthorpe Manor, said: "People come from all over the world to see the tree under which Isaac Newton was sitting. It's a pilgrimage.

"We hope that with this new tree, it will inspire a new generation of people keen on science and understanding their world."


Posted on Friday 17th June 2016

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