An auction house uncovered Newton’s document and put it on auction.
London: Sir Isaac Newton, one of the world’s renowned scientist, physician and mathematician had dome something incredible. He wrote, Plague could be cured by toad vomits. Some of his documents have been uncovered recently by Bonhams, an auctioneer firm. This document is about to be auctioned.
How was the cure made?
Newton was one of the greatest scientists in the 17th century. He developed the laws of motion and the concept of calculus. Apparently, he made lozenges from toad vomits and cured Plague. Also, he gave detailed instructions on how to make the putrid toad-vomit treatment, according to two unpublished pages handwritten by Newton that are now on the auction block. Newton describes in detail how to suspend a toad by its legs in a chimney for three days, until it vomits up “earth with various insects in it.” This vomit must be caught on “a dish of yellow wax,” he added.
After a toad dies, its body is powdered, mixed with its vomit and a serum. Then this paste is made into lozenges. “This treatment would drive away the contagion and draw out the poison”, Newton wrote. “The toad treatment is the best, but if someone was in a pinch, then amulets made out of the gemstones hyacinth, sapphire or amber could also serve as antidotes”, he added. Toad vomit was collected from toads, hung upside down.
Newton did not know that his recipe would not cure Plague until 1894, when the French-Swiss scientist Alexandre Yersin learned that the disease is caused by a bacterium, which was later named ‘Yersinia pestis’ in his honor. And these days, Plague has antibiotic treatment.
Where was his paper uncovered from?
It is believed that Newton wrote those manuscripts on Plague cure after his return to the University of Cambridge in 1667. The plague had just swept through Europe, forcing the University of Cambridge to temporarily close its doors in 1665. During that time, Newton quarantined at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in Lincolnshire, England, where he investigated the laws of gravity and motion. (The year 1666 became known as his ‘annus mirabilis,’ Latin for ‘wonderful year’).
Was the paper Newton’s own?
While his laws in physics and mathematics were well appraised, the Plague cure was not at all welcomed. In truth, these notes weren’t entirely his own. Rather, Newton had been reading “Tumulus Pestis” (“The Tomb of the Plague”), by Jan Baptist Van Helmont, a chemist, physiologist and physician from the Spanish Netherlands. “Newton’s notes are not verbatim transcriptions of Van Helmont’s text, but rather a synthesis of his central ideas and observations through Newton’s eyes,” according to Bonhams. Van Helmont, eventually turned out to be the man, who coined the term ‘gas’: The Science History Institute in Philadelphia says.
In 1936, Newton’s “plague” manuscript was sold along with a vast trove of his other writings in Sotheby’s Portsmouth sale, but these two pages were uncovered only recently after being lost for more than 70 years, according to Bonhams. Bidding is currently at $65,000 and goes until June 10.