In one of history’s great silver linings, back in 1665-66, as the Great Plague was raging across England and the university town of Cambridge was forced into lockdown, one of our nation’s finest ever minds, Sir Isaac Newton, retreated to his family home of Woolsthorpe Manor, deep within the Lincolnshire countryside. Here, obliged into an extended period of self-isolation away from his academic peers, everybody’s favourite Brian May lookalike took advantage to experiment wildly during what were later called his “Year of Wonders”, coming up with breakthrough insights in four key fields of physics and maths: gravity, optics, calculus and motion.
Woolsthorpe Manor – and its legendary apple tree – is today no longer owned by the Newton clan, but by the National Trust (NT), whose own genius-level board members recently had a big idea of their own. Perhaps some young person out there had used his or her more recent Covid-era Great Plague years of house-arrest to develop some revolutionary new insights into the true nature of the universe, ones every bit as great as those of Sir Isaac had once been.
If so, then why had the wider world not yet heard about such discoveries? Perhaps the kids were great at having ideas, but had no notion how to actually implement, develop and market them in the forbidding environment of the outside adult world? In this case, the NT stood ready and willing to help – so long as the kids’ ideas were the right kind of ideas, naturally.
As the guardians of his old family home, the NT has just announced a new prize in Newton’s name, the ‘Time + Space Award‘, which sounds more like something relating to Doctor Who than Sir Isaac to me (possibly the woke NT board were inspired by the show’s recent wilfully anachronistic portrayal of Newton as a black man?)
Entries are ostensibly (but not really) open to any U.K. resident aged 16-25 with a bright idea of any kind to share, the first prize being a “bespoke package worth £5,000”, including a supervised residential retreat at Woolsthorpe Manor, where lucky nascent Newtons will be given access to the personal aid of adult experts in their chosen field, who will provide practical advice, help and contacts to transform their Covid-era fever-dreams into actual reality.
At first sight, this sounds like a splendid idea: but there is a problem. The whole competition, you see, is ideologically rigged from the outset – to such an extent that, ironically, Sir Isaac Newton himself would never actually have been able to win it.
It may not have escaped your attention that the NT has become every bit as riddled with wokeness as some of its properties are riddled with woodworm in recent years, taking every opportunity to spout off to its visitors about sustainability, slavery, homosexuality and various other modish Left-wing obsessions which, in truth, have very little indeed to do with what is supposed to be its core purpose of preventing some nice old buildings from falling down. Naturally, even the NT’s Time + Space Award does not manage to escape this parasitic ideological infestation.
In order to qualify as a valid entrant, all eager adolescents not only have to give a detailed outline of what their proposed project actually is on an online form, they also have to explain how it addresses one of the following four Big Questions too:
- How can science be more accessible and relevant to everyone?
- Access to art and culture isn’t equal. How can your big idea address the imbalance?
- What’s your big idea that would change society for the better, for everyone?
- Nature and climate are in crisis. How can your big idea save them and help us break out of the echo chamber?
You’ll notice how the second and final Big Questions there are actually each preceded by a brief statement of alleged catechistic fact, one with which each and every applicant is apparently required to agree, as a condition of being allowed to even enter. Not into DEI? Don’t think the planet is about to die of terminal CO₂ poisoning at any given moment? Then take your home-made Cold Fusion device and shove it where the sun don’t shine, Newton Jr., the NT just doesn’t care.
You have to laugh at how, in the final query listed above, entrants are asked how their climate-related idea will “help us break out of the echo chamber”. Can the NT’s board members truly not see that they themselves are the ones most trapped in a climate-based “echo chamber” here? Apparently not: just consider the nature of the people they have chosen to act as the award’s judges.
As usual, the prize-giving jury panel appear to have been chosen on the sole grounds of diversity – the end result being they are all completely homogenous.
A truly diverse panel might have included both Greta Thunberg and Bjørn Lomborg: both horribly white, blonde and Scandinavian, sure, but on different political and intellectual ends of the climate change spectrum, at least. Instead, we have the following four identikit avatars of the exact same woke clone-amoeba:
- Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, a Left-wing, black female astronomer and BBC presenter with dyslexia, who is very concerned with opening up the world of science to marginalised groups of all kinds – such as Left-wing, black female astronomers and BBC presenters with dyslexia.
- Megan McCubbin, a Left-wing, white female conservationist climate change campaigner and BBC presenter with dyslexia, who is the step-daughter of Chris Packham, a Left-wing, white male conservationist climate change campaigner and BBC presenter with autism.
- Dr. David Olusoga, a Left-wing, black historian, social activist, race-campaigner and BBC presenter with dyslexia – which certainly explains how he writes his surname.
- Tayshan Hayden-Smith, a Left-wing, black gardener, social activist, race and climate change campaigner and BBC presenter; as the name of his bizarre-sounding not-for-profit (because it would never turn any) racial justice gardening charity is egregiously mis-spelled as ‘Grow2Know’, I presume he too also suffers with dyslexia, he just hasn’t got around to publicly announcing the fact yet.
Each of these judges is in charge of evaluating how well entrants have answered one of the NT’s four Big Questions. Now, what do you suppose they will do with any entries which have approached these posers from outside the woke echo chamber they themselves all so very clearly inhabit?
Well, let us imagine that the ghost of Sir Isaac Newton himself had risen gravitationally from his grave and attempted to answer the NT’s quartet of queries in relation to his own Big Four lockdown discoveries of his famous “Year of Wonders” of 1666. He couldn’t have done so, could he?
Science can’t be made “more accessible and relevant to everyone”, as exceedingly difficult concepts like the mathematics of the infinitesimal calculus are simply far beyond the minds of most mortal men and women, even those lucky enough to have been born with the alleged neurodivergent ‘superpowers’ of dyslexia like Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock. His sublime equations delineating the law of universal gravitation, likewise, merely describe the way the world around us actually works, rather than seeking to impossibly change it, so he would be unable to “address the imbalance” of inequality in the levels of public access to art, knowledge and culture, as Dr. David ‘DEI’ Olusoga would dearly like.
Tayshan Hayden-Smith may well wish to receive a “big idea that would change society for the better, for everyone”, like his own invaluable art of anti-racist gardening does, but lamentably Newton’s laws of motion allow for acts only of actual engineering, not of social engineering. And as for Megan McCubbin’s plea for an innovative experiment to “save us” all from the climate crisis, Newton’s discoveries about optics can only be applied in order to point out that her own powers of optical observation appear to be seriously distorted on this matter, as do those of the NT as a whole.
In other words, the considered response of the judging panel would be: thanks very much for submitting your Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica for our consideration, Mr. Newton, but I’m afraid its contents just aren’t woke enough to win. Also, David, Maggie and Megan can’t even pronounce its title. Instead, if you look at the actual optical small-print of our entry criteria, the ‘idea’ submitted doesn’t even actually have to be scientific in its nature at all, it can just be deemed literary, social or artistic, so we’ve decided to give the five grand to some random six-year-old who’s drawn a nice poster of a cute little baby polar bear drowning in a barrel of crude oil inside the London Stock Exchange instead.
Honestly, couldn’t the NT make a single exception to its entry rules for someone who, just on the off-chance, genuinely does manage to submit an idea or invention which, whilst it might well be scientifically world-shattering, happens not to simultaneously be highly woke? Not according to the FAQ section of the contest’s apparently utterly inflexible entry rules:
What if I have a big idea that doesn’t relate to one of the four themes?
Unfortunately, you can only enter with a big idea related to one of the four themes.
Obsessed by modish woke ideology, the National Trust has therefore seen fit to blindly devise a competition, in Sir Isaac Newton’s name, which Sir Isaac Newton himself would prove completely ineligible not only to win, but even to actually enter in the first place. That is the true gravity of the idiotic social and political situation we currently find ourselves orbiting in: like Planet Earth itself, Newton must be spinning in his grave.
Steven Tucker is a journalist and the author of over 10 books, the latest being Hitler’s & Stalin’s Misuse of Science: When Science Fiction Was Turned Into Science Fact by the Nazis and the Soviets (Pen & Sword/Frontline), which is out now.