Isaac Newton’s notes on the pyramids and the Apocalypse have sold for $500,000, despite being badly damaged in a fire supposedly started by his dog

Image
  • Handwritten notes from Isaac Newton that are more than 300 years old have sold for £378,000 ($US511,000) at an auction.
  • In the papers, Newton theorised about alchemy, religion, and the apocalypse.
  • He didn’t publish texts on these during his life “because it would have cost him his career,” auctioneer Sotheby’s said.
  • The papers were almost completely destroyed after his dog, the story goes, jumped on his table and knocked a candle over.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Handwritten notes by Isaac Newton on the Great Pyramid of Egypt sold for £378,000 ($US511,000) at an auction earlier in December.

The papers, from around the 1680s, had been almost completely destroyed by fire damage during the scientist’s life, Sotheby’s, the auction house that sold the notes, said.

According to legend, Newton’s dog Diamond jumped on his table and knocked a candle over, which set the papers alight. Because of the fire damage, some of the text at the edge was lost, but Sotheby’s said the papers have been “expertly conserved.”

Isaac Newton notes

In the private papers, which were never published, Newton wrote on a diverse range of topics that he kept quiet about during his life.

This includes musings about natural philosophy, alchemy, Biblical prophecy, and even the apocalypse. In the notes, which were written in a mixture of English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, he also wrote about ancient units of measurement, the pyramids in Giza, and gravity.

Newton had a fascination for alchemy and theology, but he didn’t publish texts on these during his life “because it would have cost him his career,” Sotheby’s said.

“The private papers reveal a side of the scientist that was kept quiet until centuries after his death, his fascination for alchemy,” the auction house said.