A genius name across disciplines and time

What do photography and physics have in common? Sometimes it is as simple as a name. Helmut Newton and Isaac Newton share same last name and title of genius. As a new exhibition is opened in Helmut Newton foundation, we have a chance to discuss his work and to show the impact of the discovery of gravitation by Isaac Newton on a particular example.


Museum for Photography,  Helmut Newton Foundation


    Jebensstraße 2
10623 Berlin


10 €/ticket




Museum for Photography exhibits photographs from Kunstbibliothek’s Collection of Photography and Helmut Newton Foundation. It was visited by more than 1 million people since its opening in 2004. Currently three exhibitions are hosted:

Helmut Newton did not consider himself an artist, he was merely “a gun for hire”. Nonetheless his photos attract a constant stream of photography fans to Berlin. In the same building the work of other artists is shown. In this way you have an opportunity to get an insight into Helmut Newton’s private life and work, but also to have a glance from additional photographic points of view.

The photos by Newton were and are controversial as his person is. He claimed to be a feminist but exploited female body. However, his photos are powerful and show women from a different angle – fierce less, independent and even aggressive. Some of his works have suggest nontraditional sexual orientation as topic. But was it empowerment or just a sell strategy?

Keeping this in mind it is also very inspiring to see different kind of photography as direct contrast. The brutal post-industrial photos by Ludwig Windstosser, who was one of the leading company portrait photographers, but remains mostly unknown now, are stirring up confusing feelings. Straight lines, uncommon framing and elevated views cut from industrial landscapes are brachial and powerful. These photos show a view of an industrial future, distant from the nature, but powerful and promising. The contrast of the technological shots to the photos of everyday life taken also by Windstosser is striking and similarly strong to the contrast of the equally powerful images of naked human body. It is naked industry vs. naked life vs. naked body.

P.S. The next exhibition “Body Performance” opened just two weeks ago and connects the motives of various modern photographers working with living bodies of their models to the rather unknown series of photos of the dancers of Monte Carlo Ballet taken by Helmut Newton.


As you might have heard, the acceleration in the free fall does not depend on the mass of the falling object. This statement contradicts our experience. But our experience is valid because we live on the planet with atmosphere, where the decelerating effect of the atmosphere cannot be neglected, if a certain velocity is reached. However, if there would be no atmosphere a flower pot would fall with equal acceleration (and thus equal end velocity) as a whale. How so? In this article we will explain and even show mathematically, why it is true. No worries, no high-level mathematics will be required!

First of all, we need to remember Newton’s second law of motion – the force acting upon the body is equal the mass of the body multiplied with its acceleration (F=m•a (eq. 1)). In case of free fall the force acting on the body is the gravitation. If we take as example Earth, then this force would be the Earth’s gravitational pull.

This pull depends on three things:

  1. The distance to Earth – which means the distance to the center of Earth as it is Earth’s center of mass. Therefore, in proximity of the planet this distance can be assumed equal for all bodies. Otherwise it must be significant compared to Earth’s radius REarth = 6375 km.
  2. Earth’s mass (mEarth)
  3. The mass of the body (m)
  • Newton again (this guy sic!) wrote the formula as F = G · (m · mEarth)/REarth2 (eq. 2). Where F is the force again and G is the gravitational constant, which we will ignore here.

As gravitational pull is the force, which accelerates the flower pot (and the whale!), both forces – the one from the second law of motion and the force of gravitation are the same force and eq. 1 is equal to eq. 2. As on both sides the mass of the body m is present, it can be removed, and the acceleration does not depend on actual mass of the whale or flower pot in free fall (in vacuum).


In this article we reviewed the work of two famous Newtons: Helmut Newton – the iconic photographer, whose work is exhibited in Berlins Museum for Photography, and Isaac Newton, whose work on gravity is to be seen everywhere in universe. On short example of current exhibitions and free fall acceleration we tried to show the fascination of these both worlds of photography and science, connected through one great name.


  1. Helmut Newton Foundation
  2. Gravitation Science Class Nine
  3. Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Hypnosis (1979)

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