Newton owned a pet dog named Diamond, which one day knocked over the candle on the scientist’s desk and started a blaze that destroyed records of many years’ research. Newton, viewing the destruction, said only, “O Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the damage thou hast done.”
[NOTE: Voltaire, who heard this anecdote from Newton’s stepniece Mrs. Conduitt, and the antiquarian William Stuckeley are early sources for this story. If not wholly apocryphal, it is probably an embroidery of the truth. It is certainly a fact that during his stay at Woolsthorpe Newton achieved the insights that led to his greatest scientific work.]
In an 18-month period during 1665 to 1666 the plague forced Newton to leave Cambridge and live in his mother’s house at Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire (a house that can still be seen and is preserved as a museum). One day he was sitting in the orchard there, pondering the question of the forces that keep the moon in its orbit, when the fall of an apple led him to wonder whether the force that pulled the apple toward the earth might be the same kind of force that held the moon in orbit around the earth. This train of thought led him eventually to the law of gravitation and its application to the motion of the heavenly bodies.