The Christmas season has arrived once again. The Christmas tree on the Shirokane campus has been lit, illuminating the area with its warm glow. During the tree-lighting ceremony, President Murata delivered a Christmas message, and the Meiji Gakuin Senior High School Glee Club entertained us with a performance of musical bells.
Christmas trees will be illuminated during the following times:
20 Nov 2020 (Fri.) – 6 Jan 2021 (Wed.), 16:30–22:30
27 Nov 2020 (Fri.) – 6 Jan 2021 (Wed.), 16:30–21:00
A Christmas message from President Leo Murata
“The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5)
A merry Christmas to everyone. We greet Christmas this year amidst a pandemic that has yet to subside, but even so I am very pleased to be celebrating the Nativity with you all. My words from the Bible for today are “The light shines in the darkness,” so please allow me to talk about Christmas and light.
Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But did you know that December 25 is also the birthday of the famous mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Isaac Newton? In the West, they say that babies born on Christmas are blessed with special gifts. If that’s the case, then Newton must be the most famous example.
Newton entered Cambridge University when he was eighteen years old. In the summer immediately following his graduation, the bubonic plague struck London and Cambridge, leading to the university being closed for nearly two years. Sounds rather like the circumstances we find ourselves in today, doesn’t it? As a result, Newton returned to his hometown of Woolsthorpe, where he spent two years studying subjects such as mathematics and mechanics on his own. During that time, he made discoveries that revolutionized the world, including his law of universal gravitation, his development of calculus, and his discoveries in optics. The natural sciences refer to this time as Newton’s “year of wonders.”
Passing a beam of sunlight through a triangular prism splits it into the beautiful colors of the rainbow. Newton is considered the first to have scientifically studied such phenomena to investigate the fundamental nature of light. I do not know how Newton viewed the spread of disease that surrounded him. Did he see it as a “darkness” with no escape in sight? Might that have been what led him to think about the nature of light? Is it mere coincidence that he started his studies of light in a such a dark age?
Whatever the case, Newton’s “year of wonders,” occurring during a time in which a pandemic had shut down society, is just like the time we find ourselves in today. I consider this a lesson teaching us that, even if this situation continues on, we can still have hope. We need only look to Newton as a reminder.
Once again, a merry Christmas to you all.