A piece of physicist Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree is to defy gravity by being carried into space on the next NASA shuttle mission.
The 4-inch-long wood sample, which is normally held in the Royal Society archives in London, comes from the original tree from which an apple fell and inspired Newton's theory of gravity.
Born in 1643 in Lincolnshire, Newton dominated British and European science by the early 1700s and is considered by many as the greatest scientist of his era.
The tree sample along with a picture of Newton will be taken into orbit by British-born astronaut Dr Piers Sellers who will be part of a six-man crew aboard the NASA space shuttle Atlantis scheduled to lift off on May 14.
"We're delighted to take this piece of Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree to orbit. While it's up there, it will be experiencing no gravity, so if it had an apple on it, the apple wouldn't fall," said Sellers.
"I'm pretty sure that Sir Isaac would have loved to see this, assuming he wasn't spacesick, as it would have proved his first law of motion to be correct."
After the flight the piece of tree and the picture of the scientist will be returned to the Royal Society.
The mission is part of the academic institution's 350th anniversary celebrations.
Newton himself was elected president of the Royal Society in 1703, an office he held until his death in 1727.
Lord Rees, the current president of the Royal Society, said: "We are both pleased and proud that such an extraordinary part of scientific history and important element of the Royal Society's archive collection can make this historic trip into space.
"Upon their return the piece of tree and picture of Newton will form part of the History of the Royal Society exhibition that the Society will be holding later this year and will then be held as a permanent exhibit at the Society," he added.
2010-05-13 00:35 编辑：kuaileyingyu