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Isaac Newton
- Favourite Briton.

Born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire
Born on 25th of December 1642
Died in Kensington, London
Died on 20th of March 1727

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Isaac Newton was born 25th December 1642 and died 20th March 1727. He was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, alchemist and theologian. Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, the son of a farmer who died 3 months before Isaac was born. His mother re-married and Newton was left in the care of his grandparents. He attended The King's School, Grantham and lodged with the local apothecary, becoming engaged to his daughter, a Miss Storer. In 1661 he went to Cambridge University where he became immersed in the study of mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy. His romance fizzled out when his fiancÈ married someone else, and Newton never married. In October 1665, the Great Plague epidemic forced the university to close and Newton returned to Woolsthorpe. The 2 years he then spent there proved extremely fruitful as he spent his time researching gravity after famously seeing an apple fall from a tree. He also worked out his ideas about calculus, and explored mathematics and optics in great detail. He returned to Cambridge in 1667 where he became a fellow of Trinity College. Two years later he was appointed second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. It was Newton's reflecting telescope, made in 1668, that finally brought him to the attention of the scientific community, and in 1672 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1684 Leibniz published his methods of infinitesimal calculus, which Newton claimed to have worked out his own methods for years previously, although he published almost nothing about it until 1693. This later led to 'the calculus controversy' and accusations against Leibniz of plagiarism. In 1687, with the encouragement and financial help of his friend the astronomer, Edmond Halley, Newton published his single greatest work, the 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica', or 'Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy'. The book showed how gravity was a universal force that applied to all objects in all parts of the universe, as well as describing the 3 laws of motion, the foundation of classical mechanics. In 1689, Newton was elected MP for Cambridge University, and in 1696 he was appointed warden of the Royal Mint, settling in London. Whilst at the Royal Mint he campaigned against corruption and inefficiency within the organisation. In 1703 he was elected President of the Royal Society, an office he held until his death. In 1704 Newton published, 'Opticks', based on a series of experiments on the composition of light, discovering that white light could be separated by a prism into a spectrum of different colours, and establishing the modern study of optics - the behaviour of light. He also studied and published works on history, theology and alchemy. He was highly religious and produced more work on methods of Biblical interpretations than he did on natural science. He was knighted in 1705 for his work at the Mint, rather than his contributions to science. Newton was often involved in bitter arguments with other scientists and suffered bouts of depression and eccentricity, but by the early 1700s he was the dominant figure in British and European science. After his death at the age of 84, Newton's body was discovered to have massive amounts of mercury in it, probably resulting from his alchemical pursuits. This could explain his eccentricities in later life. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, the first scientist accorded this honour.

Links:
http://www.newton.cam.ac.uk/newtlife.html Isaac Newton's Life
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/newton_isaac.shtml BBC page
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Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons - Bertrand Russell
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On this day:
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