The Leibniz-Newton Effect, or LNE is a term referring to phenomena consisting of the coincidental creation or discovery of alike or very similar products by two different practitioners with no prior influence from each other. The term is derived from the fact that Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton independently co-discovered calculus. Taken aback by the discovery of each other though, each tried to accuse the other of theft. The term "LNE," as a description, applies mainly to the coincidence of similarity between unrelated works of an entertainment nature. In the field of sociological theory, the Leibniz-Newton Effect is often referred to as the Theory of Multiple Discovery.
The occurrence of this event is quite frequent, and so in many different instances. In fact, its prominence has led to one scientific/sociological article on Wikipedia and to plenty of other articles on TVTropes. The most prominent of these, however is "Strange Minds Think Alike".
The history of inventions is one that is ripe with instances of two or more men discovering the same ideas. Often, especially in the life of Thomas Edison, this has resulted in patent wars. For a comprehensive list, see Wikipedia's entry "The List of Multiple Discoveries."
Nowhere has LNE caused more problems than in the field of entertainment. Some companies work out their differences, in spite risks of uninformed audience members being willing to accuse one or the other of theft. Sometimes, though, creators back down from releasing something or make changes to it, for fear of what consequences may befall them if the other creator's acceptance of LNE is lacking.
- John DeBruyn, the administrator of Blue Moon Inn Online, backed down from releasing an idea he had for an anime series after most of his ideas were somehow incorporated into Avatar: The Last Airbender. The revelation that someone else had thought up the same things he had and released their version of it first grieved him greatly.
- In spite their stark similarities, neither Tail Sting nor Snakes on a Plane inspired one another.
- It is frequently debated whether or not Armageddon and Deep Impact had any influence on each other.
- It is frequently debated to what extent Antz and A Bug's Life inspired one another.
- Debates still rage over the exact degree to which March of the Penguins, Surf's Up, Madagascar, and Happy Feet inspired one another over the vast number of penguins present in their plot lines.
- Yet, The Pebble and the Penguin and VeggieTales presents: The Toy That Saved Christmas are immune from these same debates, in spite their penguin obsessions.
Dozerfleet Experiences with LNE
- Candi Levens, from the Ciem Trilogy, bears some remarkable superficial similarities to the similarly-named protagonist of Starline Hodge's Candi.
- Liquidon Ethereteel from Stationery Voyagers was originally going to be called "Liquilight," until the discovery of Liqui-Lights brand pens.
- Neone Delft of Stationery Voyagers was originally going to be called "Neoni," until another creator's trademarked anime character was discovered to already bear that name.
- Karen Mindoche of the Trapezoid Kids has a lot of superficial similarities to the Karen Sympathy from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, in spite being created long before Dozerfleet's founder was even aware of the plot of that movie.
- Gordon Lomken from Stationery Voyagers was a staunch defender of Creationism and had virtually all the answers. So someone killed him. He was originally inspired by the character of Chandra Suresh from Heroes, but bears a lot in common with the character of Thomas Whitfield in Australian author Julie Cave's novel Deadly Disclosures. Until 2012, Miss Cave and the Dozerfleet founder had not had any contact or even awareness of each other.
Cases of false LNE
Numerous times, however, studios will actually use the pretense of LNE as a cover-up for actual theft.
- Dreamworks ripped off the script for The Wild, and used it to produce Madagascar. They produced Madagascar on the cheap, and released it long before Disney had completed its own version of The Wild. Resultant confusion by audiences left many believing that Disney had ripped off Dreamworks.