Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton books and biography

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Mathematical Principles

Newton S Three Laws Of Motion

Principia Mathematica Latin Edition

Principia Mathematica Latin Edition

Representations On The Subject Of Money

The Chronology Of Ancient Kingdoms

The Prophecies Of Daniel

Universal Law Of Gravitation


Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton at 46 in Godfrey Kneller's 1689 portrait
Born 4 January 1643 [OS: 25 December 1642][1]
Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, Lincolnshire, England
Died 31 March 1727 [OS: 20 March 1727][1]
Kensington, London, England
Occupation Physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and natural philosopher

Sir Isaac Newton, FRS (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) [ OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727][1] was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and natural philosopher, regarded by many as the greatest figure in the history of science.[2] His treatise Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics. By deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from this system, he was the first to show that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws. The unifying and deterministic power of his laws was integral to the scientific revolution and the advancement of heliocentrism.

In mechanics, Newton also notably enunciated the principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum. In optics, he invented the reflecting telescope and discovered that the spectrum of colours observed when white light passes through a prism is inherent in the white light and not added by the prism (as Roger Bacon had claimed in the thirteenth century). Newton notably argued that light is composed of particles. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling, studied the speed of sound, and proposed a theory of the origin of stars. In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus. He also demonstrated the generalized binomial theorem, developed the so-called "Newton's method" for approximating the zeroes of a function, and contributed to the study of power series.

French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange often said that Newton was the greatest genius who ever lived, and once added that he was also "the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to establish."[3] English poet Alexander Pope was moved by Newton's accomplishments to write the famous epitaph:

Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said "Let Newton be" and all was light.



Early years

Main article: Isaac Newton's early life and achievements

Newton was born at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. He was born to a family of farmers who owned animals and land, thus making them fairly wealthy. The location he was born at was about seven miles from Grantham, where he later attended school. By his own later accounts, Newton was born prematurely and no one expected him to live; his mother Hannah Ayscough said that his body at that time could have fit inside a quart mug. His father, also named Isaac Newton, had been a yeoman farmer and had died three months before Newton's birth, at the time of the English Civil War. When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough.

According to E.T. Bell and H. Eves:

Newton began his schooling in the village schools and was later sent to The King's School, Grantham, where he became the top boy in the school. At Kings, he lodged with the local apothecary, William Clarke and eventually became engaged to the apothecary's stepdaughter, Anne Storey, before he went off to Cambridge University at the age of 19. As Newton became engrossed in his studies, the romance cooled and Miss Storey married someone else. It is said he kept a warm memory of this love, but Newton had no other recorded "sweethearts" and never married.[4]

However, Bell and Eves' sources for this claim, William Stukeley and Mrs. Vincent (the former Miss Storer - actually named Katherine, not Anne), merely say that Newton entertained "a passion" for Storer while he lodged at the Clarke house.

Engraving after Enoch Seeman's 1726 portrait of Newton
Engraving after Enoch Seeman's 1726 portrait of Newton

From the age of about twelve until he was seventeen, Newton was educated at The King's School, Grantham (where his signature can still be seen upon a library window sill). He was removed from school, and by October 1659, he was to be found at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, where his mother attempted to make a farmer of him. He was, by later reports of his contemporaries, thoroughly unhappy with the work. It appears to be Henry Stokes, master at the King's School, who persuaded his mother to send him back to school so that he might complete his education. This he did at the age of eighteen, achieving an admirable final report.

In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. At that time, the college's teachings were based on those of Aristotle, but Newton preferred to read the more advanced ideas of modern philosophers such as Descartes and astronomers such as Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler. In 1665, he discovered the generalised binomial theorem and began to develop a mathematical theory that would later become calculus. Soon after Newton had obtained his degree in 1665, the University closed down as a precaution against the Great Plague. For the next 18 months Newton worked at home on calculus, optics and the law of gravitation.

Middle years

Mathematical research

Newton and Gottfried Leibniz developed the calculus independently, using different notations. Although Newton had worked out his method years before Leibniz, he published almost nothing about it until 1693, and did not give a full account until 1704. Meanwhile, Leibniz began publishing a full account of his methods in 1684. Moreover, Leibniz's notation and "differential Method" were universally adopted on the Continent, and after 1820 or so, in the British Empire. Newton claimed that he had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared being mocked for it. Starting in 1699, other members of the Royal Society accused Leibniz of plagiarism, and the dispute broke out in full force in 1711. Thus began the bitter calculus priority dispute with Leibniz, which marred the lives of both Newton and Leibniz until the latter's death in 1716. This dispute created a divide between British and Continental mathematicians that may have retarded the progress of British mathematics by at least a century.

Newton is generally credited with the generalized binomial theorem, valid for any exponent. He discovered Newton's identities, Newton's method, classified cubic plane curves (polynomials of degree three in two variables), made substantial contributions to the theory of finite differences, and was the first to use fractional indices and to employ coordinate geometry to derive solutions to Diophantine equations. He approximated partial sums of the harmonic series by logarithms (a precursor to Euler's summation formula), and was the first to use power series with confidence and to revert power series. He also discovered a new formula for pi.

He was elected Lucasian professor of mathematics in 1669. In that day, any fellow of Cambridge or Oxford had to be an ordained Anglican priest. However, the terms of the Lucasian professorship required that the holder not be active in the church (presumably so as to have more time for science). Newton argued that this should exempt him from the ordination requirement, and Charles II, whose permission was needed, accepted this argument. Thus a conflict between Newton's religious views and Anglican orthodoxy was averted.


From 1670 to 1672, he lectured on optics. During this period he investigated the refraction of light, demonstrating that a prism could decompose white light into a spectrum of colours, and that a lens and a second prism could recompose the multicoloured spectrum into white light. He also showed that the coloured light does not change its properties, by separating out a coloured beam and shining it on various objects. Newton noted that regardless of whether it was reflected or scattered or transmitted, it stayed the same colour. Thus the colours we observe are the result of how objects interact with the incident already-coloured light, not the result of objects generating the colour. For more details, see

From this work he concluded that any refracting telescope would suffer from the dispersion of light into colours, and invented a reflecting telescope (today known as a Newtonian telescope) to bypass that problem. By grinding his own mirrors, using Newton's rings to judge the quality of the optics for his telescopes, he was able to produce a superior instrument to the refracting telescope, due primarily to the wider diameter of the mirror. (Only later, as glasses with a variety of refractive properties became available, did e bodkin."

Newton argued that light is composed of particles, but he had to associate them with waves to explain the diffraction of light (Opticks Bk. II, Props. XII-L). Later physicists instead favoured a purely wavelike explanation of light to account for diffraction. Today's quantum mechanics restores the idea of "wave-particle duality", although photons bear very little resemblance to Newton's corpuscles (e.g., corpuscles refracted by accelerating toward the denser medium).