A personality quiz for fans of math and history: Are you a Newton or a Leibniz?

Enlarge / Arch-rivals Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz famously fought over the credit for inventing calculus.Ben Orlin

Math teacher Ben Orlin writes and draws the (aptly named) blog Math With Drawings and is the author of a new book, Change is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World. To mark its publication, he devised this entertaining accompanying quiz. You can read the Ars interview with Orlin here.

Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz have a lot in common. Birthdates in the 1640s. Fatherless childhoods. Colossal egos. Show-stopping wigs. Most of all, each had the honor of bringing calculus into the world. But when it comes to personalities, Newton and Leibniz are like night and day, or England and France, or derivatives and integrals. Theyre rivals. Opposites, even. Do you belong on #TeamNewton or #TeamLeibniz? Take this quiz to find out!

What do you like to do online?

(a) Engage in civil debate with my fellow Wikipedia editors
(b) Write long, password-protected blog posts about my intricate conspiracy theories
(c) Go on social media; read the news; maybe watch some YouTube

What makes you feel the smartest?

(a) Explaining things so that everyone else understands
(b) Knowing things that no one else understands
(c) The smartest? Im just happy not to feel the stupidest

Where would you rather live?

(a) A big, vibrant city full of interesting people
(b) A quiet backwater where no one will bother me
(c) Just someplace warm

How many different people did you text yesterday?

(a) 11 to 1,000
(b) 0 to 1
(c) 2 to 10

How many browser tabs do you have open right now?

(1) 11 to 1,000
(b) 1
(c) 2 to 10

How do you prefer to deal with your enemies?

(a) Persuade them to see the light
(b) Keep my hands clean while my friends annihilate them
(c) I try not to make enemies

What does your ideal wig look like?

(a) Curls of black smoke rising
(b) A cascading river of silver
(c) Honestly, Id rather be bald

What is the solution to our current political troubles?

(a) Learn to reconcile and seek compromise
(b) Punish the bad actors and wrongdoers
(c) Stop paying so much attention to politics

What is the greatest embarrassment of your youth?

(a) The time I got canceled for saying we live in “the best possible world”
(b) The time I threatened to burn my mom and stepdad alive
(c) Youth is one big embarrassment, and Im glad mine was not well recorded

After mathematics, what is your favorite subject?

(a) Philosophy
(b) Science
(c) More mathematics

What are you procrastinating on, and whats your excuse?

(a) A report for my boss. Ive just got a lot on my plate right now, and…
(b) Publishing my ideas. Why bother? No one grasps my genius.
(c) More or less everything. Im even procrastinating on my excuse.

Finally, and most important: when did you develop the ideas of calculus?

(a) First
(b) First
(c) I believe that trying to rank discoverers and establish priority does violence to the true, collaborative nature of intellectual progress. (Also: not first.)


If you answered mostly As, then congratulations: you are a LEIBNIZ!

EnlargeBen Orlin

You are a polymath, a renowned scholar, and one of those philosophers who loves to tell everybody how important it is to do philosophy. Youre not perfect—one time, you wrote in a think-piece that we live in “the best of all possible worlds,” an argument that Twitter nobodies are still dunking on 300 years later—but in general, your thinking is rich, bold, and abstract. You write beautifully and love to share ideas. You have a profound faith in collaboration and the impartial search for truth.

Unfortunately, you suck at academic knife-fights. Too naïve; too optimistic. Case in point: in your dispute with Isaac Newton, you accepted the British Royal Society as an impartial mediator, despite knowing that its leader at the time was literally Isaac Newton. Oh well. Your strategic stupidity may cost you in the short term. But sooner or later, history will appreciate your genius.

If you answered mostly Bs, then congratulations: you are a NEWTON!

EnlargeBen Orlin

You are viewed as an intimidating and extraordinary genius. Renowned poeRead More – Source