Calculus

2011

The public seems to be under the impression that only contemporary science is driven by competition for first place—a form of Olympics with only a gold medal. In fact, this drive to be first is both nourishment and poison for scientists and has always been fundamental to the workings of their tribal culture. Through the figure of one of the greatest scientists of all time, Isaac Newton, CALCULUS shows that the deviances resulting from such ambition were as pronounced 300 years ago as they are now. The 30-year long priority struggle between England’s and Germany’s greatest natural philosophers, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, as to who first invented the calculus (integral and differential equations) is particularly noteworthy as it was conducted through their followers. The manipulation of an anonymous committee of eleven Royal Society fellows by its President, Newton, is barely known and is illustrated in CALCULUS through three such followers of Newton: John Arbuthnot (physician to Queen Ann), the well-known French immigrant mathematician Abraham de Moivre, and Louis Frederic Bonet, the King of Prussia’s ambassador to London. In the final analysis, the play answers the question “What does moral integrity have to do with integral calculus” by one word: “Plenty.”
Carl Djerassi, in Cálculo, Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 2011 (In press)

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