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Re: Standing on the shoulders of giants

Posted by Gary Martin on November 29, 2006

In Reply to: Standing on the shoulders of giants posted by Charles Watt on November 29, 2006

: The phrase 'Standing on the shoulders of giants' written by Newton of his rival Hooke I believe had a twist of sarcasim as Hooke was not very tall. Can anyone verify this?

Newton wrote that phrase in a letter to Hooke, which describes Hooke and Descartes as the giants in question. There's no real proof that he was being sarcastic, although it seems quite probable.

Both Hooke and Newton were sickly as children, Newton especially, who wasn't expected to live beyond infancy. There's no record of either of them being of small staure in adult life though.

If Newton was being sarcastic it is more likely that it was because of the rivalry that the two engaged in throughout their scientific careers. They did have periods of cooperation, but even then they had little good to say about each other.