In 1696 Isaac Newton left Cambridge ‘ his home and workplace for thirty five years ‘ to move to a new job in London as Warden of the Royal Mint. It was supposed to be a sinecure, a no-show job. It wasn’t. Instead, Newton found himself in charge of remaking England’s entire supply of money, of hard currency — and required to serve as the nation’s top currency cop.
In performing both duties, Newton confronted, and then helped to transform the notion of what money actually is. That transformation, the heart of what is often called the financial revolution, drew directly on the themes Newton and others developed in the contemporaneous scientific revolution. This talk will use the story of Newton’s most celebrated criminal case to trace this process, the way in which new approaches to thinking about nature so rapidly exerted their influence on matters seemingly far removed from the mathematical principles of natural philosophy.