| Thirty More Famous Stories Retold|
|by James Baldwin|
|This volume was written by the author in answer to the requests of hundreds of children for more stories like the ones they had enjoyed in Fifty Famous Stories Retold. This volume includes stories of historical events, scientific discoveries, and legendary heroes. The richer vocabulary and more complicated plot elements in these stories gradually accustom children to following a longer narrative. Ages 7-10 |
SIR ISAAC NEWTON AND THE APPLE
 SIR ISAAC NEWTON was a great thinker. No other man of
his time knew so much about the laws of nature; no
other man understood the reasons of things so well as
he. He learned by looking closely at things and by hard
study. He was always thinking, thinking.
Although he was one of the wisest men that ever lived,
yet he felt that he knew but very little. The more he
learned, the better he saw how much there was still to
When he was a very old man he one day said: "I seem to
have been only like a boy playing on the seashore. I
have amused myself by now and then finding a smooth
pebble or a pretty shell, but the great ocean of truth
still lies before me unknown and unexplored."
It is only the very ignorant who think themselves very
One day in autumn Sir Isaac was lying on the grass
under an apple tree and thinking, thinking, thinking.
Suddenly an apple that had grown ripe on its branch
fell to the ground by his side.
 "What made that apple fall?" he asked himself.
"It fell because its stem would no longer hold it to
its branch," was his first thought.
But Sir Isaac was not satisfied with this answer. "Why
did it fall toward the ground? Why should it not fall
some other way just as well?" he asked.
"All heavy things fall to the ground—but why do they?
Because they are heavy. That is not a good reason. For
then we may ask why is anything heavy? Why is one thing
heavier than another?"
When he had once begun to think about this he did not
stop until he had reasoned it all out.
Millions and millions of people had seen apples fall,
but it was left for Sir Isaac Newton to ask why they
fall. He explained it in this way:—
"Every object draws every other object toward it.
"The more matter an object contains the harder it
"The nearer an object is to another the harder it
"The harder an object draws other objects, the heavier
it is said to be.
"The earth is many millions of times heavier than an
apple; so it draws the apple toward it millions and
millions of times harder than the apple can draw the
 "The earth is millions of times heavier than any object
near to or upon its surface; so it draws every such
object toward it.
"This is why things fall, as we say, toward the earth.
"While we know that every object draws every other
object, we cannot know why it does so. We can only give
a name to the force that causes this.
"We call that force GRAVITATION.
"It is gravitation that causes the apple to fall.
"It is gravitation that makes things have weight.
"It is gravitation that keeps all things in their
Suppose there was no such force as gravitation, would
an apple fall to the ground? Suppose that gravitation
did not draw objects toward the earth, what would
To you who, like Sir Isaac Newton, are always asking
"Why?" and "How?" these questions will give something
to think about.
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