The public seems to be under the impression that only contemporary science is driven by the competition for first place – a kind of Olympics with only a gold medal. In fact, this drive is both nourishment and poison for scientists and has always been fundamental to the workings of their tribal culture. Through the figure of one of the greatest scientists of all time, Isaac Newton, CALCULUS shows that the deviances resulting from such ambition were as pronounced 300 years ago as they are now.
The 30-year feud between England’s and Germany’s greatest natural philosophers, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, over who first invented the calculus (differential and integral equations) is particularly relevant as it was conducted through their followers. The manipulation of an anonymous committee of eleven Royal Society fellows by its President, Newton, is barely known and is illustrated in CALCULUS through three such Newton followers: John Arbuthnot (physician to Queen Anne), the well-known French immigrant and mathematician Abraham de Moivre, and Louis Frederic Bonet, the King of Prussia’s ambassador in London. Ultimately the play answers the question “What does moral integrity have to do with integral calculus?”. By one word: “Plenty.”
Carl Djerassi, in Cálculo, Coimbra University Press, 2011