79 Facts About Isaac Newton


Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, alchemist, theologian, and author (described in his time as a "natural philosopher"), widely recognised as one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists and among the most influential scientists of all time.

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Isaac Newton was a key figure in the philosophical revolution known as the Enlightenment.

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Isaac Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing infinitesimal calculus.

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Isaac Newton used his mathematical description of gravity to derive Kepler's laws of planetary motion, account for tides, the trajectories of comets, the precession of the equinoxes and other phenomena, eradicating doubt about the Solar System's heliocentricity.

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Isaac Newton demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and celestial bodies could be accounted for by the same principles.

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Isaac Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a sophisticated theory of colour based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colours of the visible spectrum.

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Isaac Newton formulated an empirical law of cooling, made the first theoretical calculation of the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid.

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Isaac Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

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Isaac Newton was a devout but unorthodox Christian who privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity.

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Isaac Newton refused to take holy orders in the Church of England, unlike most members of the Cambridge faculty of the day.

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Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Isaac Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of alchemy and biblical chronology, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death.

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When Isaac Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabas Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough.

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Isaac Newton disliked his stepfather and maintained some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: "Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.

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At Cambridge, Isaac Newton started as a subsizar, paying his way by performing valet duties until he was awarded a scholarship in 1664, which covered his university costs for four more years until the completion of his MA.

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At the time, Cambridge's teachings were based on those of Aristotle, whom Isaac Newton read along with then more modern philosophers, including Descartes and astronomers such as Galileo and Thomas Street.

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Isaac Newton set down in his notebook a series of "Quaestiones" about mechanical philosophy as he found it.

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Nevertheless, Isaac Newton managed to avoid it by means of special permission from Charles II.

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Isaac Newton's work has been said "to distinctly advance every branch of mathematics then studied".

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Isaac Newton later became involved in a dispute with Leibniz over priority in the development of calculus.

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Occasionally it has been suggested that Isaac Newton published almost nothing about it until 1693, and did not give a full account until 1704, while Leibniz began publishing a full account of his methods in 1684.

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Isaac Newton had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared controversy and criticism.

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Isaac Newton was close to the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier.

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The dispute then broke out in full force in 1711 when the Royal Society proclaimed in a study that it was Isaac Newton who was the true discoverer and labelled Leibniz a fraud; it was later found that Isaac Newton wrote the study's concluding remarks on Leibniz.

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Isaac Newton is generally credited with the generalised binomial theorem, valid for any exponent.

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Isaac Newton discovered Newton's identities, Newton's method, classified cubic plane curves, 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.

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Isaac Newton approximated partial sums of the harmonic series by logarithms and was the first to use power series with confidence and to revert power series.

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Isaac Newton was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669, on Barrow's recommendation.

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Isaac Newton argued that this should exempt him from the ordination requirement, and Charles II, whose permission was needed, accepted this argument.

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In 1666, Isaac Newton observed that the spectrum of colours exiting a prism in the position of minimum deviation is oblong, even when the light ray entering the prism is circular, which is to say, the prism refracts different colours by different angles.

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Isaac Newton showed that coloured light does not change its properties by separating out a coloured beam and shining it on various objects, and that regardless of whether reflected, scattered, or transmitted, the light remains the same colour.

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Isaac Newton argued that light is composed of particles or corpuscles, which were refracted by accelerating into a denser medium.

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In 1704, Isaac Newton published Opticks, in which he expounded his corpuscular theory of light.

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Isaac Newton had committed himself to the doctrine that refraction without colour was impossible.

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Isaac Newton, therefore, thought that the object-glasses of telescopes must forever remain imperfect, achromatism and refraction being incompatible.

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In 1679, Isaac Newton returned to his work on celestial mechanics by considering gravitation and its effect on the orbits of planets with reference to Kepler's laws of planetary motion.

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Isaac Newton used the Latin word gravitas for the effect that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation.

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Isaac Newton made clear his heliocentric view of the Solar System—developed in a somewhat modern way because already in the mid-1680s he recognised the "deviation of the Sun" from the centre of gravity of the Solar System.

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For Isaac Newton, it was not precisely the centre of the Sun or any other body that could be considered at rest, but rather "the common centre of gravity of the Earth, the Sun and all the Planets is to be esteem'd the Centre of the World", and this centre of gravity "either is at rest or moves uniformly forward in a right line".

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Later, in the second edition of the Principia, Isaac Newton firmly rejected such criticisms in a concluding General Scholium, writing that it was enough that the phenomena implied a gravitational attraction, as they did; but they did not so far indicate its cause, and it was both unnecessary and improper to frame hypotheses of things that were not implied by the phenomena.

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Isaac Newton acquired a circle of admirers, including the Swiss-born mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier.

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In 1710, Isaac Newton found 72 of the 78 "species" of cubic curves and categorised them into four types.

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In 1717, and probably with Isaac Newton's help, James Stirling proved that every cubic was one of these four types.

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Isaac Newton claimed that the four types could be obtained by plane projection from one of them, and this was proved in 1731, four years after his death.

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Isaac Newton was a member of the Parliament of England for Cambridge University in 1689 and 1701, but according to some accounts his only comments were to complain about a cold draught in the chamber and request that the window be closed.

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Isaac Newton was, however, noted by Cambridge diarist Abraham de la Pryme to have rebuked students who were frightening locals by claiming that a house was haunted.

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Isaac Newton moved to London to take up the post of warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, a position that he had obtained through the patronage of Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, then Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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Isaac Newton took charge of England's great recoining, trod on the toes of Lord Lucas, Governor of the Tower, and secured the job of deputy comptroller of the temporary Chester branch for Edmond Halley.

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Isaac Newton retired from his Cambridge duties in 1701, and exercised his authority to reform the currency and punish clippers and counterfeiters.

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Isaac Newton had himself made a justice of the peace in all the home counties.

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Isaac Newton was made president of the Royal Society in 1703 and an associate of the French Academie des Sciences.

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Isaac Newton was the second scientist to be knighted, after Francis Bacon.

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Toward the end of his life, Isaac Newton took up residence at Cranbury Park, near Winchester, with his niece and her husband, until his death.

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Isaac Newton was given a ceremonial funeral, attended by nobles, scientists, and philosophers, and was buried in Westminster Abbey among kings and queens.

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The French writer and philosopher Voltaire, who was in London at the time of Isaac Newton's funeral, said that he "was never sensible to any passion, was not subject to the common frailties of mankind, nor had any commerce with women—a circumstance which was assured me by the physician and surgeon who attended him in his last moments".

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Isaac Newton had a close friendship with the Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, who he met in London around 1689—some of their correspondence has survived.

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Isaac Newton's note to the latter included the charge that Locke "endeavoured to embroil me with woemen".

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Isaac Newton "recognized Christ as a divine mediator between God and man, who was subordinate to the Father who created him.

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Isaac Newton tried unsuccessfully to obtain one of the two fellowships that exempted the holder from the ordination requirement.

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In 1999, historian Stephen D Snobelen wrote, "Isaac Newton was a heretic.

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Isaac Newton hid his faith so well that scholars are still unraveling his personal beliefs.

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Isaac Newton wrote works on textual criticism, most notably An Historical Account of Two Notable Corruptions of Scripture and Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St John.

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Isaac Newton believed in a rationally immanent world, but he rejected the hylozoism implicit in Leibniz and Baruch Spinoza.

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Isaac Newton saw evidence of design in the system of the world: "Such a wonderful uniformity in the planetary system must be allowed the effect of choice".

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Isaac Newton had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.

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Isaac Newton's position was vigorously defended by his follower Samuel Clarke in a famous correspondence.

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The contrast between Laplace's mechanistic worldview and Isaac Newton's one is the most strident considering the famous answer which the French scientist gave Napoleon, who had criticised him for the absence of the Creator in the Mecanique celeste: "Sire, j'ai pu me passer de cette hypothese".

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Isaac Newton gave Boyle's ideas their completion through mathematical proofs and, perhaps more importantly, was very successful in popularising them.

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Isaac Newton was against date setting for the end of days, concerned that this would put Christianity into disrepute.

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Yet there is another, more mysterious side to Isaac Newton that is imperfectly known, a realm of activity that spanned some thirty years of his life, although he kept it largely hidden from his contemporaries and colleagues.

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Charles Coulston Gillispie disputes that Isaac Newton ever practised alchemy, saying that "his chemistry was in the spirit of Boyle's corpuscular philosophy.

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Mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange said that Isaac Newton was the greatest genius who ever lived, and once added that Isaac Newton was "the most fortunate, for we cannot find more than once a system of the world to establish.

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In 1816, a tooth said to have belonged to Isaac Newton was sold for £730 in London to an aristocrat who had it set in a ring.

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Voltaire then wrote in his Essay on Epic Poetry, "Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens, had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree.

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Isaac Newton showed that if the force decreased as the inverse square of the distance, one could indeed calculate the Moon's orbital period, and get good agreement.

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Isaac Newton guessed the same force was responsible for other orbital motions, and hence named it "universal gravitation".

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The monument features a figure of Isaac Newton reclining on top of a sarcophagus, his right elbow resting on several of his great books and his left hand pointing to a scroll with a mathematical design.

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From 1978 until 1988, an image of Isaac Newton designed by Harry Ecclestone appeared on Series D £1 banknotes issued by the Bank of England.

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Isaac Newton was shown on the reverse of the notes holding a book and accompanied by a telescope, a prism and a map of the Solar System.

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Statue of Isaac Newton, looking at an apple at his feet, can be seen at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

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