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Newton’s apple pips to form UK orchard

Logo of the first ever Internetional Science Center and Science Museum Day

Extending outreach: today is a worldwide celebration of science centres and museums.

By Matin Durrani

Today is not only World Science Day for Peace and Development (come on, don’t tell me you didn’t know) but also the world’s first ever International Science Center and Science Museum Day, which goes by the clunky acronym ISCSMD.

The grandiosely titled day seeks to “create new ways for our institutions to proactively address global sustainability while reaching increasingly diverse audiences”.

Building on UNESCO’s theme of “science for peace and development”, outcomes from the day’s events and discussions will be presented at the Science Centre World Summit 2017 in Tokyo next November.

Participating organizations have been encouraged to run activities based on one or more of UNESCO’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Among the events taking place will be seeds from Newton’s famous apple tree taking root at 30 UK science centres and museums.

The institutions will grow the seeds to create what’s rather optimistically dubbed a “countrywide apple orchard” using apple pips donated by the National Trust’s Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire. The manor is the birthplace and family home of Sir Isaac Newton – and site of the famous tree, which still flourishes today.

According to my colleague Hamish Johnston, the apple in question was of the variety “Flower of Kent” and is “rather large”. Legend has it that the original tree died in 1820, but its roots produced a second tree that is still there today.

One place that could do with some of Newton’s apple seeds is the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune India. Attempts to grow a tree from saplings from Newton’s original tree failed in the heat, as did attempts using grafted trees –  leading to staff to try a domestic Indian variety instead.

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