Jerusalem library said to hold Newton's prediction for the end of the world
By STEVE WEIZMAN
The Associated Press
2/23/03 1:17 PM
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Sir Isaac Newton predicted that the world will end in 57 years, a TV network said, based on a document from a Jerusalem archive, but a library official said Sunday he has not seen it.
Newton's somber prediction was unearthed by a Canadian researcher as part of a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary, "Newton: The Dark Heretic."
In a statement promoting the program, to be aired on March 1, the BBC said it will show a handwritten Newton document predicting the end of the world in 2060, according to calculations he made based on the Bible. The BBC said the document was found in a Newton collection in the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem.
Raphael Weiser, director of the library's manuscripts and archives department, said Sunday that Canadian academic Stephen Snobelen had worked extensively on its Newton collection and had brought a BBC camera crew with him, but Weiser said he had not seen whatever document the program intended to present as evidence.
"They came here two months ago with a researcher from Nova Scotia," Weiser told The Associated Press on Sunday. "He found in one of our folios this note and they are going to show it on their program."
Snobelen, of the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, could not be reached Sunday to comment.
Weiser said he could not confirm the manuscript's contents or authenticity until it is revealed in the BBC film.
"I didn't see it with my own eyes," he said. "When they show it on TV, we will see it."
Newton, who died in 1727, won immortality for formulating the law of gravity, but he also was a theologian who wrote well over a million words on biblical subjects and was influenced by Hebrew scripture, according to academic articles on his work.
The BBC statement said that he studied the Bible for more than 50 years, trying to unravel what he believed were God's secret laws of the Universe.
The Israeli daily Maariv said the documents now in Jerusalem were discovered in England at the home of the Duke of Portsmouth and sold at the London auction house, Sotheby's, in 1930.
The buyer, named by the paper as Abraham Yehuda, later donated the collection to the Jewish National Library, it said.
Weiser said the library has never fully examined its wealth of Newton manuscripts.
"We have thousands of volumes of Newton," he said. "We haven't researched it all."