During the pandemic, which student religiously stayed in their room, built themselves shelving for books and created a small office in which to work, studied hard and in the process, not only developed a whole new branch of mathematics but also came up with the basis of a theory which could shape the thinking of future physicists for centuries in the future?
The pandemic in question was the 'Black Death'. In 1665, 'social distancing' orders emptied university campuses throughout the country as bubonic plague killed around 100,000 Londoners – about a quarter of the total population. One of those affected was a 24-year-old student from Trinity College, Cambridge – Isaac Newton.
During his year of lock-down, he studied many new ideas and in the process, he defined the rules of differential and integral calculus, effectively creating a whole new branch of mathematics, he formulated the basis of a theory of universal gravitation which later became enshrined in his 3 laws still taught in schools today and he also explored optics, coming up with a number of advances in that field as well.
When you look back at this lock-down, what will you be able to tell people you were doing during that time?
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