The Greatest Scientist of All Time Said… “Chill.”

Alright, so maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit. Just a little bit.

If I haven’t said it before, let me say it now – Isaac Newton. Was. That. Dude! Of course this goes without saying, but really, never in my 19 years of being have I seen any scientist try to undermine the integrity of Newton’s work. His method, his precision, and his assiduity were, and remain, exemplary.

Isaac Newton, the man who (almost) single-handedly made the most definitive contributions to the Laws of Physics as we know them today.

Isaac Newton, the man who chose to honor above all else, his faith and his work. Unlike the intellectuals and scientists (cough, Einstein), who chose to abandon all inhibition or restraint in their search for salacious pleasure, Newton exercised extreme discipline in his personal life. This man whom I love so much that I sought to immortalize him as a poster on my wall. (I went to the poster sale at my school last year, looking for Isaac Newton posters and Foster the People posters. Incidentally, the store didn’t have either because they weren’t really in demand. What? And people wonder what is wrong with my generation).

Yeah, so naturally, Isaac Newton is the greatest scientist of all time in my books.

Anyway, today I figured I’d make my own Issac Newton poster since it’s proving to be extremely difficult for me to find one that I’m thoroughly satisfied with. I wiki’d Isaac, hoping to see something interesting to make into a poster when I saw this:

In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 in which he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible, he estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060. In predicting this he said, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”

I love this man! Am I the only one who finds this quote painfully hilarious? It’s like he could just have said this yesterday, “All you Mayan-Harold Camping-doomsday enthusiasts and observers, chill. Our annihilation is going to take a while. And y’all are doing more harm than good with your Armageddon garbage. ”

From where I’m standing, 2060 isn’t that much far away. This essentially means that Isaac has said we’ve got a minimum of 47 years before things start to get really fucked up. And given the high frequency with which disaster (man-made and natural) has pummeled the modern man, especially within the past decade or so, this quote kinda makes me want to reach for a box of tissues.

Isaac Newton, who clearly took the Bible in it’s entirety seriously, admits that this date is at best, an estimation. A guess. And granted the source of this estimate, I’d like to assert that this is an educated guess. Now before you ask, “what makes this ‘prophecy’ any different from the others?” , let me say that I might just be another doomsday groupie but then, I’m also an engineer, and cold data is the language I best understand.

Isaac Newton had no knowledge of Climate Change and food insecurity, which according to the available data, are the deadliest and most imminent threats to the human race, in the history of the human race. Never mind that these threats are to reach a climax in the coming decades with the human population doubling in size by 2050. Never mind that the proposed solutions to this sustainability crisis will create a system that might make us even more vulnerable. Take for example, the issue of food:

Ideally, traditional farming methods and produce are what is best not just for the human body, but also for the environment. This is because of the reduction or absence of synthetic fertilizers, the reliance on manual labor as opposed to mechanized optimization which reduces the carbon footprint, and the guarantee of only natural occurring compounds and enzymes in the soil. The problem is that the 1.5 billion hectares of arable land available today cannot sustain the world’s population with the current farming practices. The proposed solution to the coming food-population crisis is an increase in synthetic and enhanced fertilizers and seeds, and an increase in mechanized farming practices to increase yield. This, on the surface, may seem harmless enough, until you compare the cancer rates and obesity figures between the countries that already have this food production system, with the countries that maintain more localized, traditional farming methods, or at the very least, have a more regulated adoption of these enhancements. For anyone interested in the numbers, you can compare the cancer rates between both kinds of countries here, and obesity figures here. And I’ve not even began to talk about the effects climate change will bring to food production, like uncharacteristic droughts and famine, which will mean a decrease in yield among other obvious things. (Note: I’m not saying we shouldn’t embrace improvements to food production methods, I’m outlining the discrepancy in effects between countries that rapidly adopt them and countries that have a more careful and thought-out adoption of those methods.)

Lol, let’s not even get into other imminent threats like more people listening to Paul Krugman, biochemical warfare, and others that have never been anticipated in ancient or modern history. Yet all of a sudden, within the last decade, every scientist, financial adviser, and doctor, is telling us as a species to ‘brace ourselves’. There’s a lot of instability coming and the numbers are now pointing to the year 2050 or so. These threats are not about fire and brimstone raining down from the heavens or some other bizarre abstract thing that can only happen in a Quentin Taratino movie, but very real possibilities that we humans, have created ourselves. They are very peculiar to this generation. Regardless of the wars, plagues, and natural disasters that have happened before, there is a growing consensus within the scientific community that  the actions of man and nature, especially since the industrial revolution, has us poised for a series of mega-catastrophes.

No biggie. This really is all just speculation. That’s all on one hand.

On the other hand, for a guy who lived in the 1700s, who had nothing but his Bible and his genius, his prediction seems to be on point for the most part. What’s more, it doesn’t seem like he cared about this very much, which brings us back to the title of this post – Chill…

Being anxious about tomorrow, a tomorrow that you frankly have no control over, is not worth it. Jesus said it, Solomon said it, and now Isaac Newton is reminding us, that preparing for the future, hoping, and trusting in God are all recommended, but worrying? No, not really.

I’m hoping I will remember this advice when the going gets tough, cause we all know it’s easier said than done. Still, chill.



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Yasky says:

    The message is true; the big picture is definitely true. Worry is pointless. Circumstance never asks us to sign on it’s actions before it takes them. No one ever sees tomorrow; the end of third paragraph of the first post—which I rightfully named “Tomorrow”—in this search ( proves that.

    However, some intricate details are untrue to some degree, “fuzzy falseness” ( ,_,) because…
    – Infinite exponential growth is possible at the quantum level
    – Newton only leads classical physics which—and scientist of the 21st century will agree—is built on a false model. Nevertheless, at 19, your books may not be that voluminous, classical physics is what it taught in schools, it’s normal to think Newton’s the greatest
    – Einstein—whose salacity precedes his scientific reputation in some non-Western thought schools—and his theories may be the reason the world may live past Newton’s impending dooms-year. I may not live to see that day, but you will. If it does happen, remember this comment (:

    Great post nonetheless! This mantra of “don’t worry, be happy” should permeate the world and its thinkers. Thanks for sharing.

    1. dararain says:

      For a minute there, I was starting to wonder… But it was just for a minute. 🙂
      – On exponential growth, I thought I had given enough nuance with my reference to Robert Malthus and “topnotch economists” that I was referring to population and economic relationships and not Quantum Mechanics
      – On Classical mechanics, I can argue that it’s all semantics – false model or incomplete model. I’m going with incomplete model as the Newtonian mechanics weren’t disproved but remodeled by Einstein (and others) to accommodate extreme cases and still formed the foundation for understanding his improvements as it remains a formidable approximation
      – On Einstein, I didn’t make reference to his scientific contributions. There’s no doubt about those. I wrote about his apparent inability to control his penis. Also, my commentary already implies that we will live past this supposed ‘dooms-year’ by drawing and building on a technology that I’m personally already wary of

      Great comment regardless. You’re clearly a nerd and I love that. You’re also clearly an Einstein fan so I forgive you for that. 🙂 I appreciate your feedback.


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