Ask any fourth grader, “Who discovered gravity?” The standard answer you’d get is Sir Isaac Newton. But how true is that? Have we given a man credit for another man’s hard work? The answer to this question happens to be yes. Manchester University has confirmed that Isaac Newton is not the one who discovered gravity. Let’s look at some details:
- The Vaisheshikasutra describes the force of gravity, written by Rishi (sage) Kanad from the school of Vaisheshika in 2nd century BCE.
- Newton’s birthday: January 4th, 1643 (CE, of course)
Here’s an interesting image:
There was an uproar on the Internet recently about whether these exact words were present in the Vaisheshikasutra, but it was clarified later by trusted sources that they are.
And there’s more. If you are a math lover like me, you probably took Calculus as a subject in high school. Remember the infinite series, a fundamental component of calculus? Its discovery was also falsely credited to Newton, Manchester University claims. Their website explains that the Indians predated Newton’s discovery by 250 years. The infinite series was discovered by Madhava and Nilakantha from the Kerala School in 1350. The Kerala School, they added, also succeeded in calculating the value of pi up to 17 decimal places.
The university also explains how these ideas happened to reach Newton himself. These Indians from the Kerala School passed on their knowledge to highly educated Christian missionaries who visited the country during this time, which, many argue, was probably passed on to Newton.
Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph, who made these revelations public, explained that this fact was unknown to many because:
- European scholars refused to accept the ideas of non-Europeans
- The languages in which these were published, i.e. Malayalam and Sanskrit, were not known to many.
He concludes by saying that the beginnings of modern mathematics being seen as a European achievement, but contributions from other countries in the 15th and 16th centuries have been completely forgotten. I personally believe that the efforts taken by the Manchester University to confirm this is a step in the right direction. We have been ignored for too long and it is time for all of us to set the facts straight. This discovery is yet another small thing for us Indians to be proud of.
Author : Kavitha Kannan | Teacher @ BVM International School