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Cambridge University Artist Creates Unique Ink From Clone Of Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree

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We’ve all heard the story of how Sir Isaac Newton formulated his theory of gravity by watching an apple fall from a tree in the 1660s. Recently, an artist at Cambridge University used a clone of Newton’s apple tree and prepared ink using it. The clone was planted at Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden in 1954 and fell in high winds in February 2022, reported BBC. 

As per the report, the garden artist-in-residence Nabil Ali extracted ink from its bark and used the product to make an artwork of 68 apples. To make the ink, he peeled away some of the bark and soaked it for a day-and-a-half in his workshop before grinding it, boiling it to release the tannin, and adding the chemical compound alum.

”To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has discovered the colours hidden within a descendent of Newton’s inspiring tree. I thought I’d end up with black pigment but it’s a dark golden yellow. I’m calling it Newton’s Gold,” Mr Ali said. 

The exhibit featuring the replicas of the 68 apples will premiere on Apple Day on October 22 at the university’s garden.

Dr Samuel Brockington, curator of Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden, said the genome of the Cambridge tree was sequenced by the Darwin Tree of Life project.

“From this analysis, our tree seems identical to other descendants, and so we can say with confidence that ours is a direct clone of the original tree in Grantham, which also fell in a gale in the 19th century,” he said.

Talking about Mr. Ali’s creation, he said, “We’re so pleased that Nabil has managed to sample its colour. His work is an inspiring way of engaging people in the natural world through art and performance.

The original tree, grown in the garden of Newton’s childhood home of Woolsthorpe Manor near Grantham in Lincolnshire, was said to have fallen in a gale in the early half of the 19th century.