Isaac Newton Biography

1. Early Life

On January 4, 1643, Isaac Newton was born in the hamlet of Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England (using the "old" Julien calendar, Newton's birth date is sometimes displayed as December 25, 1642). He was the only son of a prosperous local farmer, also named Isaac Newton, who died three months before he was born. A premature baby born tiny and weak.

At age 12, Newton was reunited with his mother after her second husband died. She brought along her three small children from her second marriage. Newton had been enrolled at the King's School in Grantham, a town in Lincolnshire, where he lodged with a local apothecary and was introduced to the fascinating world of chemistry. His mother pulled him out of school, for her plan was to make him a farmer and have him tend the farm. Newton failed miserably, as he found farming monotonous.

2. Schooling

He soon was sent back to King's School to finish his basic education. Perhaps sensing the young man's innate intellectual abilities, his uncle, a graduate of the University of Cambridge's Trinity College, persuaded Newton's mother to have him enter the university. Newton enrolled in a program similar to a work-study in 1661, and subsequently waited on tables and took care of wealthier students' rooms.

When Newton arrived at Cambridge, the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century was already in full force. The heliocentric view of the universe—theorized by astronomers Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler, and later refined by Galileo—was well known in most European academic circles. Philosopher René Descartes had begun to formulate a new concept of nature as an intricate, impersonal and inert machine. Yet, like most universities in Europe, Cambridge was steeped in Aristotelian philosophy and a view of nature resting on a geocentric view of the universe, dealing with nature in qualitative rather than quantitative terms.

During his first three years at Cambridge, Newton was taught the standard curriculum but was fascinated with the more advanced science. All his spare time was spent reading from the modern philosophers. The result was a less-than-stellar performance, but one that is understandable, given his dual course of study. It was during this time that Newton kept a second set of notes, entitled "Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae" ("Certain Philosophical Questions"). The "Quaestiones" reveal that Newton had discovered the new concept of nature that provided the framework for the Scientific Revolution.

Though Newton graduated with no honors or distinctions, his efforts won him the title of scholar and four years of financial support for future education. Unfortunately, in 1665, the Great Plague that was ravaging Europe had come to Cambridge, forcing the university to close. Newton returned home to pursue his private study. It was during this 18-month hiatus that he conceived the method of infinitesimal calculus, set foundations for his theory of light and color, and gained significant insight into the laws of planetary motion—insights that eventually led to the publication of his Principia in 1687. Legend has it that, at this time, Newton experienced his famous inspiration of gravity with the falling apple.


Over two miraculous years, during the time of the Great Plague of 1665-6, the young Newton developed a new theory of light, discovered and quantified gravitation, and pioneered a revolutionary new approach to mathematics: infinitesimal calculus. His theory of calculus built on earlier work by his fellow Englishmen John Wallis and Isaac Barrow, as well as on work of such Continental mathematicians as René Descartes, Pierre de Fermat, Bonaventura Cavalieri, Johann van Waveren Hudde and Gilles Personne de Roberval. Unlike the static geometry of the Greeks, calculus allowed mathematicians and engineers to make sense of the motion and dynamic change in the changing world around us, such as the orbits of planets, the motion of fluids, etc.

Although largely synonymous in the minds of the general public today with gravity and the story of the apple tree, Newton remains a giant in the minds of mathematicians everywhere he greatly influenced the subsequent path of mathematical development.


Besides his work on universal gravitation (gravity), Newton developed the three laws of motion which form the basic principles of modern physics. His discovery of calculus led the way to more powerful methods of solving mathematical problems. His work in optics included the study of white light and the discovery of the color spectrum.

Newton performed an experiment using a glass prism. For the experiment he placed a glass prism in front of a beam of light projected through a tiny hole in a window shade.


As a professor, Newton was exempted from tutoring but required to deliver an annual course of lectures. He chose to deliver his work on optics as his initial topic. Part of Newton's study of optics was aided with the use of a reflecting telescope that he designed and constructed in 1668—his first major public scientific achievement. This invention helped prove his theory of light and color. The Royal Society asked for a demonstration of his reflecting telescope in 1671, and the organization's interest encouraged Newton to publish his notes on light, optics and color in 1672; these notes were later published as part of Newton's Opticks: Or, A treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light.

6. Political and Religious Views

Religious Views

Newton’s understanding of God came primarily from the Bible, which he studied for days and weeks at a time. He took special interest in miracles and prophecy, calculating dates of Old Testament books and analyzing their texts to discover their authorship. In a manuscript on rules for interpreting prophecy, Newton noted the similar goals of the scientist and the prophecy expositor: simplicity and unity. He condemned the “folly of interpreters who foretell times and things by prophecy,” since the purpose of prophecy was to demonstrate God’s providence in history when “after [prophecies] were fulfilled, they might be interpreted by events.”

A member of the Anglican church, Newton attended services and participated in special projects, such as paying for the distribution of Bibles among the poor, and serving on a commission to build fifty new churches in the London area. Yet Newton seldom made public pronouncements regarding his theology. He is remembered instead for his pioneering scientific achievements.

Political Views

England had a Monarch (king or queen) they followed what they believe in they were Christian.

7. Newton's Three Laws

First Law (the Law of Inertia): An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by a net external force.

Second Law: In mathematical terms, F = ma, or force equals mass times acceleration. In other words, the acceleration produced by a net force on an object is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force and inversely proportional to the mass. In the MKS system of measurement, mass is given in kilograms; acceleration, in meters per second squared; and force, in Newtons (named in his honor).

Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. With the Principia, Newton became internationally recognized. He acquired a circle of admirers, including the Swiss-born mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, with whom he formed a strong friendship that lasted until 1693. The end of this friendship led Newton to a nervous breakdown.

8.five practice problems for second law

Units  Important units you need to know: acceleration: m/s 2 mass: kg force: N (newtons) F:force (N) m:mass (kg) a:accel (m/s 2 ) 1 N = 1 kg ·m/s 2 m F a F = ma

: You push a wagon that has a mass of 8kg. If the net force on the wagon is 4N, what is the wagon’s acceleration? Step 1: Write what you know:  m= 8kg  F net = 4N Step 2: Use the formula a= F net /m  a= 4N/8kg=  0.5m/s 2 m F a

 If the mass of a helicopter is 4,500kg, and the net force on it is 18,000N, what is the helicopter’s acceleration? a= F/m a= 18,000N 4,500kg a= 4m/s 2 m F a

What is the net force on a dragster with a mass of 900kg if it’s acceleration is 32m/s 2 ? F= ma F= (900kg)(32m/s 2 ) F= 28,800N m F a

A car pulled by a tow truck has an acceleration of 2.0m/s 2. What is the mass of the car if the net force on the car is 3,000N? m= F/a m= 3,000N 2.0m/s 2 m= 1,500kg m F a

9.Newtonian odd facts


Newton was an avid list maker and one of his preserved lists included all of the sins he felt he had committed up until the age of 19 (his age at the time). One of them included, "Threatening my father and mother Smith to burne them and the house over them." You can't hardly blame the guy, though. When Smith proposed to Isaac's mother, Isaac wasn't part of the deal. The three-year-old Isaac was sent to live with his grandmother.


In his year as a member of parliament, he spoke up only once — and that was to tell someone to close a window.

Do you really think that Newton’s predictions were mere outcomes of his passion and obsession? Think again! It was Newton who first predicted that Jews will take back Israel and it turned out to absolutely correct!

There is a conflict about Newton’s date of birth. Well, we can’t really call it a conflict. Newton was born on December 25, 1642. Once Georgian Calendar was adopted, it turned out that Newton’s date of birth was January 4, 1663. We will go with the non-Georgian date because of the reason mentioned in next fact.

10. Late Years

Toward the end of this life, Newton lived at Cranbury Park, near Winchester, England, with his niece, Catherine (Barton) Conduitt, and her husband, John Conduitt. By this time, Newton had become one of the most famous men in Europe. His scientific discoveries were unchallenged. He also had become wealthy, investing his sizable income wisely and bestowing sizable gifts to charity. Despite his fame, Newton's life was far from perfect: He never married or made many friends, and in his later years, a combination of pride, insecurity and side trips on peculiar scientific inquiries led even some of his few friends to worry about his mental stability.

By the time he reached 80 years of age, Newton was experiencing digestion problems, and had to drastically change his diet and mobility. Then, in March 1727, Newton experienced severe pain in his abdomen and blacked out, never to regain consciousness. He died the next day, on March 31, 1727, at the age of 84.

Sources Cited


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