Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist
A fascinating slice of true-crime history that unfolds in 1695, when law enforcement was unheard of and modern money was little more than a concept
When renowned scientist Isaac Newton took up the post of Warden of His Majestyâ€™s Mint in London, another kind of geniusâ€”a preternaturally gifted counterfeiter named William Chalonerâ€”had already taken up residence in th...more
This one runs through his three laws (things will keep moving unless you stop them, the force you use to stop them equals their mass multiplied by their acceleration and whatever shove you give something it shoves back at you with the same force). He briefly explains the calculus. He spends lots of time tal ...more
I was waiting for further developments in the story, and was surprised when the main body of the book ended at page 247 of 318. The rest of the book has acknowledgements, notes, bibliography and an index. The author wants us to know that he did a lot of work on this!
Levenson is deft about leading us to the conclusion that Chaloner was good, but not nearly as good as he thought he was. Unfortunately the packaging of this led me to ...more
While focused on Newton's years wi ...more
It provides an introduction to the revolution that was differential ...more
I learned a lot about Isaac Newton, for instance, that his major work "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" was printed only when a colleague asked him his thoughts on a vexing problem of the day. He immediately answered the question to his colleagues surprise who asked him ...more
Newton was seriously badass. I had heard, wrongly, that he invented milled edges for coins while Warden of the Mint. He didn't -- they were invented well before him.
What Newton did do as Warden of the Mint is less easy to summarize, but more impressive. He supervised and successfully pushed through the Great Recoinage. No technical innovation, but an impressive display of management skill for somebody fam ...more
Mr. Levenson has a pretty good ...more
One thing I did like was Levenson's ability to stay neutral, there is no agenda here, just the pursuit of the truth. I think Newton would have appreciated it.
Philosophy of any kind was traditionally considered the act of learned or inquisitive m ...more
Reading this book ...more
Issac Newton as a detective, investigator, pursuer and prosecutor of criminals for the British (then English) Mint? Since when I asked when I discovered a blurb about the book.
Levenson does an excellent job ...more
I would not have picked up this book if the secondhand bookstore had properly filed it. However I spotted it on the mystery shelf and thought it might be a fictional account with the Newton persona as the hero.
Much to my surprise, the book is a biography and a history of England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In the vernacular of William Chaloner, a counterfeiter whom Newton seems to have perceived as his personal nemesis, I "w ...more
The book opens with Newton's early li ...more
Newton's career as Warden of the Mint, the person responsible for the Great Recoinage of 1696 is of course less known than his physics career, and so his role, as the Warden, in prosecution of counterfeiters is almost unknown to anybody, apart from a small circle of historians. Thomas Levenson does a very nice work in bringing this forgotten page to life in his book. It is centered on prosecut ...more