The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Newton’s apple picked

St Petersburg, Nov. 10 (Reuters): Thieves have stolen Newton’s “apple” from a Russian museum — the celebrated book in which the 17th century English physicist formulated his eponymous law on gravity which revolutionised science.

Posing as readers, the thieves stole a rare first edition of Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica from the Russian National Library in St Petersburg, a library official said today.

“The loss was discovered straight away when the reading room was closing on November 6 and it had not been returned by the readers who had requested it,” the official said.

The theft was reported to police on Friday.

Newton’s Principia (or Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), first published in 1687, is considered to be one of the most important single works in the history of modern science.

In Principia, Newton formulates the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation.

Legend has it that the young Newton was reading under an apple tree when he was struck on the head by a falling fruit, an innocuous event which provided the inspiration for his theories on gravity and secured him a place in history.

His new laws helped him to explain a range of phenomena, including the motion of planets, moons and comets within the solar system, the behaviour of Earth’s tides, the procession of the equinoxes and irregularities in the moon’s orbit.

The library official said the stolen book was usually kept in the archives and only given out to readers for work in the library’s reading room.

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