Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726) English scientist who explained the Law of Gravity and the Laws of Motion. Newton was a polymath who made studies in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy. His Principia Mathematica, (1687) laid the foundations for classical mechanics.
- Newton was born January 4, 1643, in Woolsthorpe, England, United Kingdom
- He died March 31, 1727, in London, England, United Kingdom
- Newton actually studied for a degree in law.
- The young Isaac was enrolled in King’s School in Grantham, a town in Lincolnshire
- King’s School, Grantham in Lincolnshire still has his signature inscribed on the walls.)
- Grantham was the birthplace of Mrs Thatcher
- Newton’s mother wanted Isaac to become a farmer, but Isaac had no interest in farming exams and failed!
- He owned more books on historical subjects than on science.
- Isaac Newton suffered two nervous breakdowns.
- He remained single throughout his life. After from a brief flirtation in his teenage years, he was too absorbed in his studies for romance.
- Newton was notorious for his bad temper and conflicts with other people. In particular Hooke and Leibniz.
- Between 1665 and 1667 the University of Cambridge was dispersed due to the Plague and Newton returned to Woolsthorpe Manor.
- Isaac Newton became known in the scientific community through his refractive telescope – a big improvement on existing telescopes.
- Isaac Newton disliked to hear any criticism and he became embroiled in a bitter row with Robert Hooke, an original member of the Royal Academy.
- After the death of his mother in 1678, Newton entered six years of intellectual seclusion where he only communicated with the briefest notes.
- It is claimed Newton’s discovered the theory of gravity after watching an apple fall in the orchard.
- Throughout his life, Newton continued research into a wide range of subjects including mathematics, optics, astronomy and alchemy.
- Newton wrote prolifically on alchemy, believing a key goal was the Philosopher’s Stone (a substance which would turn base metals into gold. Many of his writing were kept quiet as some alchemy practices were punishable by death.
- Newton was interested in the new wave of philosophy becoming known in the Western world. He became an acquaintance of the political philosopher John Locke.
- He was elected as Member of Parliament for the University in 1700, but only held this post for a year.
- Newton himself would tell the story of an apple falling from a tree giving him inspiration for his work on gravity. However, there is no evidence he was actually hit by an apple!
- Newton’s book – Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), has been called the single most influential book on physics
- In 1696, Newton was appointed warden of the Royal Mint. He took his duties very seriously, seeking to prevent corruption.
- As master of the Mint, Newton moved the British currency, from the silver to the gold standard.
- Newton was fascinated with religion, though didn’t hold Christian orthodox views. He wrote an article on textual criticism of the Bible.
- Newton was interested in the sacred geometry of Solomon’s Temple. He noted that the temple’s measurements had a divine symmetry and were symbolic of man’s relationship to the earth.
- Newton was ‘accused’ of being a Rosicrucian – a mystical sect who were deeply religious, anti-catholic and interested in aspects of alchemy. Newton shared many sympathies with the Rosicrucians though didn’t publically claim membership.
- One of Newton’s most famous quotes was:
- “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
- English poet Alexander Pope wrote the following epithet for Newton.
“Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.”
- Newton died in 1727, at the age of 85
Isaac Newton at Amazon
Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World
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