During the Winter of 1664 a weird disease broke out in London.
The first symptoms of this disease appeared within days after infection. First it felt like an awful flu with a bad headache, dizziness and high fever. Then, painful swellings on the neck, armpits or groin. Within less than a week, people infected with it either died or recovered. The majority died.
The bubonic plague was back. This was the worst outbreak of plague in England since 1348.
It was a real tragedy. 100,000 people died in 18 months — nearly a quarter of London's population.
The plague was imported from Central Asia via rodents, especially Gerbils. And it was passed between them by bites from fleas. And then from infected rodents to humans.
By August 1665, the bubonic plague reached Cambridge. And Cambridge University decided to temporarily close its doors.
Cambridge University also recommended its teachers and students to escape to the countryside. Because it was less densely populated and therefore much safer.
One of those students was Isaac Newton.
Isaac Newton went back home to his family's farm in Woolsthorpe Manor. During 18 months he had to work from home. And this was the most productive period of his life.
He studied harder, he worked on mathematical problems and he experimented obsessively.
Then one day, he came up with his theory of gravity.
Sometimes social distancing has its benefits.
P.S. The World is facing a new invisible war right now. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread all over the World, let's try to remember two things:
1. Creativity is the most important human resource we have, let’s use it wisely (great examples of lateral thinking: The Surprising Way Durham Distillery is Helping Fight Coronavirus, Pornhub is handing out free premium subscriptions to help Italy fight coronavirus, LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury company (behind Christian Dior, Guerlain etc) is turning its Perfumes and Cosmetics business into a hand sanitizer manufacturer to combat the spread of COVID-19, Portuguese online wine retailer Adegga creates a substitute online wine fair to help Portuguese wine producers present the wines they were going to bring to the international trade fair, Prowein.
2. Wherever you are, stay home, stay safe. And spread knowledge, not the virus 🙏