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Newton’s apple tree returns from space

06 July 2010

The piece of Newton’s apple tree that was taken into space by British-born astronaut Piers Sellers is today being returned to its Royal Society home.  The section of wood, taken from the original tree that inspired Newton to formulate his theory of gravitation, was released from the Royal Society’s archives and entrusted to NASA Astronaut Piers Sellers as part of the Society’s 350th anniversary year celebrations.

In addition to the piece of tree, the Society also provided an image of Sir Isaac Newton, former President of the Royal Society, to accompany the historic item into space.  The piece of tree and picture of Newton spent 12 days in space with Sellers, who videoed them both floating in the space station, before returning them today for inclusion in the Royal Society’s exhibition, The Royal Society: 350 years of science.

Professor Lorna Casselton, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, who will receive the piece of tree from Piers Sellers, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Piers and the rest of the crew of NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Royal Society and to have one of our most precious artefacts return to excite visitors to the Royal Society.  I am sure it would have delighted and astonished Newton to know that something so important to his intellectual journey has made such an extraordinary journey of its own.  We hope that it will continue to inspire future generations for centuries to come.”