Isaac Newton was a legendary scientist best known for establishing the laws of gravity. But in his free time, he dabbled in experiments worthy of Voldemort.
Like the “Harry Potter” villain, Newton actively sought the philosopher’s stone, a mystical tool that allows mere mortals to turn any object into silver or gold, and has the power to grant eternal life.
In his new book, “Isaac Newton: The Asshole Who Reinvented The Universe,” author Florian Freistetter depicts Newton as a thoughtless genius with no social skills and a harsh demeanor who, despite his scientific acumen, was also devoted to alchemy.
“Alchemy was . . . not merely a hobby [for Newton],” he writes. “If anything, it would be closer to the truth to call Newton’s research into physics a ‘hobby’ that he fitted in between his theological and alchemistic studies.”
Newton was so obsessed with this hocus pocus that he built his own chimneys and furnaces for conducting experiments. He considered the pursuit of alchemy so sacred, he never spoke about it in public, writing about it only in code.
Here’s one example of his writings:
“This red powder is accordingly Flamel’s male wingless dragon, for after it has been extracted from its normal powder, it is one of the three substances out of which the bath of sun and moon is made.”
Newton kept his alchemical recipes deliberately confusing. His recipe for a philosopher’s stone that supposedly multiplied gold contained ingredients like “fiery dragons,” “doves of Diana” or “eagles of mercury.”
“One might expect to find such words in muddled texts by would-be medieval magicians. Yet they are by Newton,” Freistetter writes.
“Newton saw alchemy as just another way to understand the universe,” Freistetter added in an interview with The Post. “He was convinced that the true god is present everywhere, not only in spiritual form but also in substance. Thus, there had to be some sort of ‘divine matter’; some fundamental part of matter that would allow the transformation from everything into everything. For Newton . . . the study of alchemy was as important and serious for him as . . . science.”
There were signs early on that Newton, born in January 1643 in England, would not take a traditional path through life.
“Newton was a strange and awkward chap from the very beginning,” Freistetter writes in the book. “‘What shall become of me? I will make an end of it. I can only weep. I do not know what to do.’ He wrote these depressing lines in his notebook while still a youth.”
With his father dead before his birth and his remarried mother sending him off to live with grandparents, Newton, smarter than his peers, lived an isolated young life.