What We Are Reading Today: Newton the Alchemist

Updated 21 November 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Newton the Alchemist

Author: William R. Newman

When Isaac Newton’s alchemical papers surfaced at a Sotheby’s auction in 1936, the quantity and seeming incoherence of the manuscripts were shocking. No longer the exemplar of Enlightenment rationality, the legendary physicist suddenly became “the last of the magicians.” Newton the Alchemist unlocks the secrets of Newton’s alchemical quest, providing a radically new understanding of the uncommon genius who probed nature at its deepest levels in pursuit of empirical knowledge.
In this evocative and superbly written book, William Newman blends in-depth analysis of newly available texts with laboratory replications of Newton’s actual experiments in alchemy. He does not justify Newton’s alchemical research as part of a religious search for God in the physical world, nor does he argue that Newton studied alchemy to learn about gravitational attraction. Newman traces the evolution of Newton’s alchemical ideas and practices over a span of more than three decades, showing how they proved fruitful in diverse scientific fields. A precise experimenter in the realm of “chymistry,” Newton put the riddles of alchemy to the test in his lab.
He also used ideas drawn from the alchemical texts to great effect in his optical experimentation. In his hands, alchemy was a tool for attaining the material benefits associated with the philosopher’s stone and an instrument for acquiring scientific knowledge of the most sophisticated kind.


What We Are Reading Today: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Updated 18 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, pulling back the curtain on the therapeutic process and offering the rarest of gifts: An entertaining, illuminating, and quite possibly life-changing account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them. 

Author Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who shares her insights not only about her professional experience but her own journey through therapy. 

The book “helps normalize therapy for everyone, and her ability to share the profound growth both she and her patients experienced was so honest and refreshing,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

“While Gottlieb includes many important psychological concepts, her writing is clear and conversational and easy for anyone to engage with. There was a perfect balance with the personal stories that will also help her readers become more aware of their own obstacles and moments of growth as they move through this book,” the review added. 

Gottlieb is a New York Times bestselling author who writes the weekly “Dear Therapist” advise column for the Atlantic. 

A contributing editor for the Atlantic, she also writes for the New York Times Magazine, and is a sought-after expert on relationships, parenting, and mental health topics in media such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN and NPR.