Things that made me laugh today, and some that have intrigued me.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Newton saved the UK economy £10 million
A statistical analysis suggests that Isaac Newton saved the UK economy the equivalent of millions of pounds by implementing measures to standardise the country's gold coins.
Although Newton is famous for his theory of gravity, he also spent the last 30 years of his life running the UK's Royal Mint, where the country's coins are manufactured. Ari Belenkiy, a mathematician at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver, Canada, has now compared coins produced before and after Newton's stint at the mint to study the effect of measures he introduced to prevent rich goldsmiths from exploiting a currency loophole.
The quality of coins produced by the Royal Mint is assessed each year at the Trial of the Pyx, a ceremony begun in the 13th century. As coins are minted, a few from each batch are placed in a small chest, or pyx, and later weighed to determine how far they stray from the required standard.
This was essential because if coins weighed more than their face value, canny goldsmiths would buy them from the Mint, melt them down, then sell them back to the Mint at a profit, a process known as culling. "Neither counterfeiting nor clipping was involved," says Belenkiy.
"The culling was a vocation of the rich!" / more