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Newton’s Apple Tree
Everyone knows the story that Sir Isaac Newton was inspired to develop the theory of gravity after being hit on the head by a falling apple. While this story is probably stretching the truth, he did write about observing apples falling in his yard which set his thoughts of gravity in motion.
He wrote about the specific tree that he observed and a direct descendent of that tree grows on the NIST campus in front of the NIST Research Library. The tree was given to NIST by the United Kingdom’s National Physical Laboratory and was grown from cuttings originally taken from the inspirational apple tree at Newton’s home, Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, England.
The tree is a rare variety called the Flower of Kent… it produces a type of cooking apple that by today’s standards is considered poor quality and is therefore no longer commonly cultivated. NIST Research Library held a photo contest this spring while the tree was in bloom. The two contest winners shown here were selected from many beautiful entries.
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