626: Newton and Leibniz

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Newton and Leibniz


Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz both developed calculus independently of each other about eight years apart, as it says in the comic. However, although Newton had begun working on calculus before Leibniz, he didn't publish it, and Leibniz was the first to publish it (see the Leibniz–Newton calculus controversy).

In calculus a derivative is the result of mathematical differentiation: the instantaneous rate of change of a function relative to its argument, and denoted df(x)/dx. As taught in schools, if a function is drawn as a graph, the derivative of that function at a given point is equal to the slope of that graph at that point. However, the literary word derivative means developed from something older or copied/adapted from others, as Newton claims is the case here.

The pun is that Newton is claiming that Leibniz's mathematical derivative is a derivative, or descendant, from his earlier development of this calculus.

The comic as a whole is mocking the pattern of corny one-liners that David Caruso often spurts out during the opening scenes of CSI: Miami. The one liner is followed by him dramatically pulling off or putting on his sunglasses and then the show breaks into the title sequence which starts with Roger Daltrey singing an extended "YEEEEAAAAAAAH", from the song Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who as noted in the title text. This has become a popular Internet meme and was used frequently with Michael Jackson's death. The sunglasses joke was also used in the title text of 977: Map Projections. The counts of each letter (Y E A H) in the scream are 1, 6, 6, and 6, which combined produce the year in which Newton is credited to have discovered calculus.


[Newton with long white hair, facing right, holds up a sheet of paper, with several lines indicating the writing on it, in one hand and the other hand is also held up. He stands in front of an empty desk. A smaller frame breaking the border at the top of the frame has a caption:]
Newton, 1666
Newton: I've invented calculus!
[Leibniz with long black hair, facing left, holds up a sheet of paper, with several lines indicating the writing on it, in one hand. He stands in front of a desk with a book and two pieces of paper, one lying below the other paper but up above the book. A smaller frame breaking the border at the top of the frame has a caption:]
Leibniz, 1674
Leibniz: I've invented calculus!
[Back to a similar image of Newton, but he has now taken his arms down, still holding his paper.]
Newton: Really? Sounds a little bit...
[Zoom in on Newton as he puts on a pair of sunglasses in a panel without a frame. The table is not included.]
[Newton now with sunglasses on, again in front of the table.]
Newton: ...Derivative.

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Is the "break-out sunglasses" a theme on xkcd now?--Classhole 02:38, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

"dramatically pulling off his sunglasses" ?? I'm fairly certain I've never seen the show much less one of these bits, but I thought I understood him to typically be putting on his sunglasses (?) -- Brettpeirce (talk) 14:48, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

The introduction to a glossy Hollywoodland whodunnit is Derivatives? With a take on glasses?
I really need to get a TV and catch up on all the wonderful stuff I have been missing out on.
Does it go into any details about how the two protagonists solved their issues?
I'd really like to see a study on the state of mind that gave the world fluxions and a computer close up of the journey from "fluxions to calculus notation" in 8 years.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 00:58, 29 January 2015 (UTC)