Ed Vetter, ’42, gave MIT an apple tree that is a direct descendant of the tree under which Isaac Newton sat when he is said to have conceived the theory of gravity.
“I couldn’t think of a better place than MIT to put a tree that illustrates a law of physics,” says Vetter, whose tree stands in MIT’s President’s Garden, a sunny spot off the infinite corridor.
The tree was grown from a cutting of a tree in England’s Royal Botanical Gardens that was grown from a cutting of Newton’s apple tree. Vetter was given the plant as a gift from The National Bureau of Standards when he left office as undersecretary of the U.S. Commerce Department in 1977, the year he gave it to MIT.
“I’ll be honest with you, whenever I’m at MIT I always stop to see how the tree is doing,” he says. “I’ve watched it grow from eight inches to 12 feet. It makes me feel good to know that it has flourished and that people enjoy it.”
It is a fact, he says, that over the years the tree has become the apple of his eye.