Chapter 6— Newton's Prism: From the One Flows the Many

Glass prism transforming white light into rainbow of colors

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726) was a British physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, natural philosopher, and theologian. Many considered him the greatest and most influential scientist in history. Newton's Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) laid the foundation of classical mechanics, also know as Newton's law of universal gravitation. His simple formula F=ma (force = mass x acceleration) is as famous as Albert Einstein's E=mc2. English poet Alexander Pope honored Newton's accomplishments with the famous epitaph:
                                Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night;
                                God said, "Let Newton be!" and all was light.

Newton analyzing ray of light
Engraving by Robert Loudan

The Rainbow Book (1979) p. 74
    In 1666, Newton was 23-year old student at Cambridge University. He experimented in optics to understand light and colors. At the time, it was believed that color was a mixture of light and darkness, and that prisms produced the color. One sunny day, Newton darkened his room and made a hole 1/3-inch wide in his window shutter, letting one beam of sunlight to enter the room. He placed a glass prism in the sunbeam, projecting the light onto a white sheet of paper resting on a chair. He observed a stretched image of the sun, mainly white with a blue upper edge and red lower edge. In his second trial, he projected the light through a narrow slit in the shutters. The result was a spectacular multicolored band of light similar to a rainbow. Newton divided the spectrum into seven named colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. He then showed that a lens and a second prism could recompose the multicoloured spectrum into white light. (References: 1, 2, 3, 4), (Video: 1, 2).
    Apple Computer's first logo (1976) was designed by Steve Jobs and drawn by Ronald Wayne. It showed Newton sitting under an apple tree with a quotation from William Wordsworth— "Newton... A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought... Alone". The apple above Newton's head resembled a light bulb "idea bubble" as if Newton is going to have an epiphany on discovering the laws of gravity. Rob Janoff designed the second logo (late 1976) showing a rainbow apple with a bite in it, honoring Newton's discovery of white light dispersed by a prism into a rainbow of colors. The apple symbol may refer to Newton's apple that fell on his head when he discovered the laws of gravity. The bite in the apple may refer to the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The bite is Adam & Eve becoming enlightened after eating from the Tree of Knowledge. It's interesting that Steve Wozniak became a third degree Freemason (1). Steve Jobs went to India with Dan Kottke searching for enlightenment (1). Professor Henry P. Maguire from Johns Hopkins University gave a series of lectures and seminars on "Abstraction and Naturalism in Byzantine Art" at Stanford (November 1, 3, 4, 2010). He mentioned that Byzantine art showed heaven as monochromatic and earth as colorful. Then I realized it's similar to Newton's prismNewton shines white beam / of light in prism to make / rainbow of colors. Another analogy is Plato's One and Many (Noumenon & Phenomena).
Apple's first logo
Newton under apple tree

Apple's second logo
Rainbow of colors
    Newton's Prism is in the shape of the Greek letter Lambda Λ, that Plato called the "Soul of the Universe" (Timaeus 35b). Plato quotes Socrates to Parmenides "The All is one" and Plato has an epiphany in Philebus 16d"From the gods a gift to the human race: thus I reckon the gift of seeing the One in the many and the many in the One." (1). May we contemplate on the nature of this One and see the many leaves nourished by the one sap in a tree, in the many ocean waves having their essence in the one H2O, in the many household appliances run by the one electricity, and in the many human beings coming from the One Great Spirit.

                            — Peter Y. Chou
                                Mountain View, 1-29-2013