Young Isaac Newtons Memory Feat

I had heard the story about the young Newton who memorized Euclid’s first theorem, then demonstrated it from memory, then memorized the second theorem, then from memory demonstrated the first AND second, proceeding in a like fashion (with each new theorem memorized he again demonstrated from the first to that current theorem.) I forced myself to do the same thing. At the end of the Freshman year I was able to stand at a blackboard in McDowell hall and demonstrate from memory the first 5 books of Euclid. When we came to Book V (and it was Spring and we were young and romantic) NO ONE was able to do the long theorems on ratios, I did one, and then when no one could do the second the tutor asked me to do the second. I sensed some hostility in the glances of my audience. Anyway, now I can not remember any of it. I can only remember what it FELT like to memorize all those theorems. When I set out to do this feat I thought it would be impossible. I was surprised that I actually succeeded.


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