Maybs. Maybs it was the other people being utter knobs. This guy is loved by the physics community but the scientific legend had a few arch enemies. Yeah he was the father of mechanics and this and that but seriously, he could be seen as a bit of a prick.
Newton had some big ol’ issues with Robert Hooke and Gottfried “Got Fried” Leibniz, almost wiping out the memory of Hooke whilst the argument with Leibniz also involved other people. Clearly, Newton liked a bit of conflict.
Newton’s beef with Leibniz was a classic tale of “I did it first”, as in, who formed what would now be integral (whey!) to a modern calculus class. Leibniz and Newton were actually exchanging letters so that they could work on some maths problems and it is possible that Leibniz got his hands on one of Newton’s manuscripts giving GL an advantage on the road of ‘discovery’. Kind of reminds me of visits to The Louvre where plaques claim that explorers “found” those treasures. Maybe Newton was badly done here.
On to Rob Hooke. Rob Hooke is best known for his work on springs. He did other stuff and was quite the scientist but I’m more bothered about discussing the juicy goss. According to Hooke’s biorgrapher, Hooke was a miserable bastard that might be a bit of a hypocrite in the sense that he probably nicked work and said it was his, and then got pissy that someone else tried to steal it. One of the people he had a dispute with was Newton and Newton did what we all would do if our enemy died and we became President of the Royal Society – you’d burn all evidence of them, including paintings.
My favourite thing Newton did just because it is so wonderfully sarcastic was to make a reference to Hooke’s vertical challenges, saying in a that Newton saw further because he was stood on the shoulders of giants – they were friends at this point but it’s much more fun to imagine him pointing out that Hooke was a hobbit. Hooke basically said that Newton’s work on light was shit so Newton, having none of it, sought to crush his reputation, doing a pretty good job of it. Next time you get a 1997 £2 coin, check to see whether the former Master of the Royal Mint’s Hooke directed height insult is present.