Isaac Newton
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(1642 - 1727)
Died at age 84 Birthday: Dec 25 Sign: Capricorn
Born premature his father died three months before his birth and grew up in his grandmothers care.
Sir Isaac Newton’s influence upon the entire world impacted humanity greatly. Before him, mankind groped toward the dawn of knowledge; after, the entirety of our universe blazed with midday sun. Where the planets were mysterious, fuzzy specks in Galileo's telescope, Newton's calculus captured them from the sky and predicted their paths. He revolutionized the telescope with his reflecting mirrors, discovered the spectrum of light, devised the law of gravity and motion, and documented it all with a painstaking genius that still confounds and astonishes experts.
Isaac Newton Quotes

  • “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
  • “No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”
  • “If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent.”
  • “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.”
  • “To me there has never been a higher source of earthly honor or distinction than that connected with advances in science.”
  • “I am ashamed to tell you to how many figures I carried these computations, having no other business at the time.”
  • “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
  • “Are not gross bodies and light convertible into one another; and may not bodies receive much of their activity from the particles of light which enter into their composition? The changing of bodies into light, and light into bodies, is very conformable to the course of Nature, which seems delighted with transmutations.”
  • “I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.”
  • “Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy.”

Most of his lasting achievements were accomplished in a sprint of discoveries over two years, from 1665-1667.

In spite of the fact that Newton studied and taught at Trinity College in Cambridge for most of his professional life, there is no historical mention of him by any of his students.

If his students failed to come to a lecture Newton would often lecture to the empty hall.

While Newton was developing calculus, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was doing the same in Germany. Newton later accused Gottfried of stealing the idea, and brought the matter to inquiry before The Royal Society of London. The Society concluded that Gottfried had "pretended" to have invent calculus "to rival and supplant Mr. Newton." The judgment was rendered anonymously by the president of the Society -- Sir Isaac Newton.

Newton recognized that mathematics are precise, but people are not. For this reason, he took multiple measurements of his astral observations, and then used the average of the measurements in his calculations. This remains a standard practice of science.

Newton slept only 3-4 hours a night, often in his clothes. Whereas Nikola Tesla needed 3-4 hours of sleep.

He rarely combed his hair, and often walked around with his shoes half-off.

In his mathematical calculations his figures were precise, but in his notes the day and the date often didn't match.

Prior to Newton, many of the world's religious fables were unchallengeable. Since Newton, such stories are often weighed against mathematical law and tested by the scientific method.

A single question by Edmond Halley -- "What kind of curve would be described by the planets supposing the force of attraction towards the sun to be reciprocal to the square of their distance from it?" -- set Newton on an 18-month odyssey that changed mathematics and the scientific world forever.

After the publishing of the Principia, although many were astonished by the work, few could comprehend it. Albert Einstein would share this honor when he published the Theory of Relativity 250 years later.

A powerful telescope of the time was typically 6 feet long. Newton's reflecting telescope, however, brought a clearer image -- and was just 6 inches long.

Newton was offered membership into the Royal Society after presenting the body with his telescope, and eventually served as the Society's president for 24 years.

Newton discovered the properties of light when he was 24 -- but didn't publish the findings until 38 years later.

Married to mathematics, Newton may never have had even a serious friendship.

Calculus was originally called "fluxions."

Developed the Three Laws of Motion.

Developed the Law of Universal Gravitation.

Newton left much of The Principia as complex as possible "to avoid," he said, "being baited by little Smatterers in Mathematics."

Newton was an alchemist, and although his dabbling with the occult gained him little, the processes he developed remain in use in modern chemistry.

Not everyone took Newton to be an unquestionable genius. "Newton's laws of motion," Isaac Asimov explained, "represent assumptions and definitions and are not subject to proof. In particular, the notion of 'inertia' is as much an assumption as Aristotle's notion of 'natural place.

Newton may have had Asperger syndrome, a cousin of autism.

Newton received the Royal Society's Copley Medal, an honor he shares with Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Niels Bohr.

Sir Isaac had a fascination for gunpowder, as did Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo Galilei. Alfred Noble invented a smokeless gunpowder in 1887.

Newton was a vegetarian, as are known/thought to be: Leonardo da Vinci, Bruce Lee Pythagoras, Warhol, Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, Jacques Cousteau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, H G Wells, Vincent Van Gogh, Steven Spielberg, John and Yoko Lennon, Paul McCartney, Prince, Hank Aaron, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and Mahatma Gandhi.

The logo of Apple Computer was inspired by Newton's famous falling apple story. Apple's CEO is Steve Jobs.

The Encyclopedia of the Future asks, “Who was the most influential futurist in the history of the world?” Newton shares the honor with Buckminster Fuller, H. G. Wells and Leonardo da Vinci.

March 20, 1727: Died in London he was given a state funeral and the first scientist to be buried in the prestigious Westminster Abbey. His ornate tomb at Westminster Abbey was inscribed, "Mortals rejoice that there has existed so great an ornament of the human race." Also entombed at Westminster Abbey Are: Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin, John Dryden, T.S. Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.