(This was originally posted at http://africanjungle.iblog.co.za/2010/09/12/who-is-this-autist-from-history/ on 12th September 2010.)
I’d like to play a little game with you. Some people think that autism didn’t exist before the 1930’s. To counter the mindblowing ignorance, I’m going to name someone from history who was almost certainly autistic. To start the game off, I’m going to give you some clues so that you can try to guess who he is. At the end, I will put his name and protrait.
- He was born on the 4th January 1643 (25th December 1642) in the British county of Lancashire (Note: the Gregorian Calendar was not yet in use in the UK when he was born, hence the two dates).
- Although he was once engaged, he never married and it is believed that he was a virgin when he died.
- He was highly religious, but not an Anglican Christian.
- He found that a prism could split light into its different colours, and also that it could blend the split light back into white light.
- He became the Master of the Royal Mint in 1699 and had notable success in dealing with counterfeiters and clippers.
- He invented the Refracting Telescope and the principle of milling the sides of coins to prevent ‘clipping’, and some sources dubiously attribute the invention of the cat flap to him.
- He was the first scientist ever to be knighted.
- The SI unit of force is named for him.
- He is credited, along with Gottfried Leibnitz, with developing differential and integral calculus.
- He is best known for his laws of Gravity, Conservation of Energy, Inertia, and Action-Reaction, which appear in his work Principia Mathematica.
Who is he?