The first edition of Sir Isaac Newtonâs *Principia Mathematica* was sold for $3.7 million at Christieâs on Wednesday, becoming the most expensive printed science book ever sold at auctionâ[insert joke about outrageous college textbook prices]. Albert Einstein described Newtonâs seminal 1687 work as âperhaps the greatest intellectual stride that it has ever been granted to any man to make.â

Bound in goatskin, this is one the first 80 editions of *Principia Mathematica *printed for continental Europe. The unnamed bidder who purchased it gave three times the price Christieâs expected. In the past five decades, only one other original animal skin-bound copy of *Principia Mathematica* has been auctionedâa leather copy made for King James II sold at Christieâs for $2.5 million in December 2013.

Keith Moore, the head of the Royal Society library in London, saidÂ *Principia Mathematica *is ânot just the history and development of science; itâs one of the greatest books ever published. It was hugely influential in terms of applying mathematics to basic physical problems.â

In *Principia Mathematica*, Newton lays out his three laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation. Perhaps most famous is Newtonâs third law of motionââFor every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.â Though Newton wrote a lot about action, the famed scientist allegedly never got any himself. The French writer Voltaire, who was in London during the time of Newtonâs funeral, wrote that the famed scientist âwas never sensible to any passion, was not subject to the common frailties of mankind, nor had any commerce with womenâa circumstance which was assured me by the physician and surgeon who attended him in his last moments.â Mathematician Charles Hutton mused in 1815 that a likely explanation for Newtonâs virginity was his âconstitutional indifference to...sex in general.â In a 2008 essay on Newton for *Vanity Fair*, the late Christopher Hitchens wrote that Newton âclearly hated women, may well have died a virgin, and was terrified of sex (and believed that the menstrual blood of whores possessed magical properties).â

Is this, then, the most expensive book penned by a possible virgin? Either way, this is a huge win for the virgin community. Congrats!

Advertisement