Isaac Newton’s burnt ‘Great Pyramid’ notes reveal secret quest to predict apocalypse
He’s one of history’s greatest thinkers, but while Sir Isaac Newton changed our understanding of the universe, he had some pretty bonkers ideas in his time, too.
Unpublished notes penned by the acclaimed English physicist detail his obsessive quest to unlock the secrets of the Ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Newton believed, according to his 17th Century scribblings, that the structures’ measurements could help him predict the apocalypse.
Three pages scrawled by the legendary academic are expected to fetch a six-figure sum in an auction launched by Sotheby’s.
They date to the 1680s and feature musings on the Great Pyramid of Egypt, ancient units of measurement, and Biblical prophecy. Bidding ends Tuesday.
According to the online listing, the notes were almost lost forever when they were scorched in a fire said to have erupted when Newton’s dog, Diamond, jumped up onto a table and knocked over a candle.
“The pyramids at Giza are not just the greatest architectural marvels that survive of the ancient world: To Newton, as to many others, they were a key that could unlock profound secrets,” Sotheby’s writes in its listing.
“The Great Pyramid could help him glean an understanding of Biblical prophecy; it could lead him to a knowledge of the timing of the Apocalypse.
“He also is likely to have hoped that it could provide the proof for his Theory of Gravity.”
In the scorched writings, Newton, who studied the pyramids in the late 17th century while at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, claimed that unlocking their secrets may help solve other mysteries about the world.
He was feverishly trying to work out the unit of measurement used by the Ancient Egyptians while building the last remaining Wonder of the World.
Newton believed the ancient people knew how to measure the Earth, and by finding out how they measured the pyramids would himself be able to calculate our planet’s circumference.
He hoped that this would lead him to other ancient measurements, allowing him to calculate the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon – the setting of the apocalypse.
This, in turn, would supposedly help him predict the end of the world.
Newton is famed for his theories on maths and astronomy, but he also produced many works that would now be classified as occult studies.
Newton kept his views on the supernatural a secret for fear of ruining his glittering career in science and philosophy.
At the time of writing, the leading bid for his “Pyramid papers” sits at £280,000 ($370,000).
“These are really fascinating papers because in them you can see Newton trying to work out the secrets of the pyramids,” Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s manuscript specialist, told the Observer.
“The papers take you remarkably quickly straight to the heart of a number of the deepest questions Newton was investigating.”
Sir Isaac remains a household name almost 300 years on from his death thanks to his groundbreaking scientific ideas.
His theories on gravity and motion changed our understanding of the universe by explaining the movement of objects under everyday conditions.
The physicist is believed to have penned enough papers to fill 150 novel-length books during his decades-long career in the sciences.
He kept his more outlandish papers a secret for fear of retribution from religious leaders, who believed experimental science was akin to heresy.
New documents and other scribbling emerge with surprising frequency, giving historians fresh insight into his seminal work.
Those currently on auction are said to have been discovered in the 1880s, 200 years after Newton is thought to have written them.