Many readers like reading science fiction because of the mind-warping sense of scale that future-set stories can create.  You can put a SF book down and feel very humble about the world, and also quite hopeful for the future.

But here’s a real life, contemporary times scale-warping experience:  Consider the original apple tree that Newton was sitting beneath when he observed the falling apple and wondered about what made it fall straight down.  That tree?  That tree is still growing.

It is over 350 years old (and has been carbon dated to verify it).

This is the actual tree Newton sat under.  How is that for a mind-warp?  You can still travel to Woolsthorpe Manor today, and touch the tree that he touched.  Well, you probably can’t touch it, sorry — they’ve fenced off the root area around it to help the tree stay healthy.  But this is the place where Newton devised the principles of gravity that were published in Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687.  Originally, Newton called gravity “a power”.  Now it is generally referred to as a force.

The original force!

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