Sometimes the quest for knowledge is not a straight path, but more like a blindfolded stumble through the woods that involves bonking your head on low-lying tree branches. And this time I have Melvyn Bragg to thank for the bump on my forehead.
It all started with this broadcast about the dispute between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz over who invented calculus. During the course of the talk, one of the experts notes that Newton and Leibniz are the only two mathematicians to have cookies named after them. I instantly thought of inventing a New Math cookie that always comes out of the oven half baked. I put it alongside anti-gravity devices in the file drawer of projects I’ll have to get around to someday, but went out into the world confidently telling people that Fig Newtons are named after Sir Isaac.
Unfortunately, a bit of Googling later on showed that while Leibniz Butterkeks are indeed named after the inventor of the Leibniz Integral Rule, Fig Newtons get their moniker from the Massachusetts town of Newton. The Kennedy Biscuit Company, which invented the fruity cookie in 1891, used regional place names for its products.
This is the first time I’ve been steered wrong by something on Bragg’s show, which is bad enough. Even worse, I now have an insatiable craving for Fig Newtons. The quest for knowledge always has its price, I guess.