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Professor of History of Science, Indiamãng cầu University, Bloomington, 1963–89. tác giả of Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton và others.

**Isaac Newton**, in full **Sir Isaac Newton**, (born December 25, 1642 *Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica* (*Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy*, 1687) was one of the most important single works in the history of modern science.

Top Questions

### What is Isaac Newton most famous for?

Although Isaac Newton is well known for his discoveries in optics (trắng light composition) & mathematics (calculus), it is his formulation of the three laws of motion—the basic principles of modern physics—for which he is most famous. His formulation of the laws of motion resulted in the law of universal gravitation.

### How was Isaac Newton educated?

After interrupted attendance at the grammar school in Grantsay đắm, Lincolnshire, Englvà, Isaac Newton finally settled down lớn prepare for university, going on to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1661, somewhat older than his classmates. There he immersed himself in Aristotle’s work và discovered the works of René Descartes before graduating in 1665 with a bachelor’s degree.

### What was Isaac Newton’s childhood like?

Isaac Newton was born khổng lồ a widowed mother (his father died three months prior) và was not expected khổng lồ survive sầu, being tiny and weak. Shortly thereafter Newton was sent by his stepfather, the well-to-vị minister Barnabas Smith, to lớn live sầu with his grandmother and was separated from his mother until Smith’s death in 1653.

### What did Isaac Newton write?

Isaac Newton is widely known for his published work *Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica* (1687), commonly known as the*Principia*. His laws of motion first appeared in this work. It is one of the most important single works in the history of modern science.

## Formative influences

Born in the hamlet of Woolsthorpe, Newton was the only son of a local yeoman, also Isaac Newton, who had died three months before, và of Hannah Ayscough. That same year, at Arcetri near Florence, Galileo Galilei had died; Newton would eventually piông xã up his idea of a mathematical science of motion and bring his work lớn full fruition. A tiny và weak baby, Newton was not expected lớn survive sầu his first day of life, much less 84 years. Deprived of a father before birth, he soon lost his mother as well, for within two years she married a second time; her husb&, the well-to-bởi vì minister Barnabas Smith, left young Isaac with his grandmother và moved lớn a neighbouring village to lớn raise a son và two daughters. For nine years, until the death of Barnabas Smith in 1653, Isaac was effectively separated from his mother, và his pronounced psychotic tendencies have been ascribed to lớn this traumatic sự kiện. That he hated his stepfather we may be sure. When he examined the state of his soul in 1662 and compiled a catalog of sins in shorthvà, he remembered “Threatning my father and mother Smith lớn burne them và the house over them.” The ađáng yêu sense of insecurity that rendered him obsessively anxious when his work was published and irrationally violent when he defended it accompanied Newton throughout his life & can plausibly be traced lớn his early years.

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After his mother was widowed a second time, she determined that her first-born son should manage her now considerable property. It quickly became apparent, however, that this would be a disaster, both for the estate & for Newton. He could not bring himself to lớn concentrate on rural affairs—phối to watch the cattle, he would curl up under a tree with a book. Fortunately, the mistake was recognized, & Newton was sent baông xã to lớn the grammar school in Grantđam mê, where he had already studied, lớn prepare for the university. As with many of the leading scientists of the age, he left behind in Grantsay mê anecdotes about his mechanical ability và his skill in building models of machines, such as clocks and windmills. At the school he apparently gained a firm command of Latin but probably received no more than a smattering of arithmetic. By June 1661 he was ready khổng lồ matriculate at Trinity College, Cambridge, somewhat older than the other undergraduates because of his interrupted education.

## Influence of the Scientific Revolution

When Newton arrived in Cambridge in 1661, the movement now known as the Scientific Revolution was well advanced, & many of the works basic to lớn modern science had appeared. Astronomers from Nicolaus Copernicus khổng lồ Johannes Kepler had elaborated the heliocentric system of the universe. Galileo had proposed the foundations of a new mechanics built on the principle of inertia. Led by René Descartes, philosophers had begun lớn formulate a new conception of nature as an intricate, impersonal, và inert machine. Yet as far as the universities of Europe, including Cambridge, were concerned, all this might well have never happened. They continued lớn be the strongholds of outmoded Aristotelianism, which rested on a geocentric view of the universe and dealternative text with nature in qualitative rather than quantitative sầu terms.

Like thousands of other undergraduates, Newton began his higher education by immersing himself in Aristotle’s work. Even though the new philosophy was not in the curriculum, it was in the air. Some time during his undergraduate career, Newton discovered the works of the French natural philosopher Descartes và the other mechanical philosophers, who, in contrast to lớn Aristotle, viewed physical reality as composed entirely of particles of matter in motion & who held that all the phenomena of nature result from their mechanical interaction. A new phối of notes, which he entitled “*Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae*” (“Certain Philosophical Questions”), begun sometime in 1664, usurped the unused pages of a notebook intended for traditional scholastic exercises; under the title he entered the slogan “Amicus Plato lớn amicus Aristoteles magis amica veritas” (“Plalớn is my friend, Aristotle is my friover, but my best frikết thúc is truth”). Newton’s scientific career had begun.

The “Quaestiones” reveal that Newton had discovered the new conception of nature that provided the framework of the Scientific Revolution. He had thoroughly mastered the works of Descartes and had also discovered that the French philosopher Pierre Gassendi had revived atomism, an alternative sầu mechanical system lớn explain nature. The “Quaestiones” also reveal that Newton already was inclined lớn find the latter a more attractive sầu philosophy than Cartesian natural philosophy, which rejected the existence of ultimate indivisible particles. The works of the 17th-century chemist Robert Boyle provided the foundation for Newton’s considerable work in chemistry. Significantly, he had read Henry More, the Cambridge Platonist, & was thereby introduced khổng lồ another intellectual world, the magical Hermetic tradition, which sought khổng lồ explain natural phenomena in terms of alchemical and magical concepts. The two traditions of natural philosophy, the mechanical & the Hermetic, antithetical though they appear, continued to influence his thought & in their tension supplied the fundamental theme of his scientific career.

Although he did not record it in the “Quaestiones,” Newton had also begun his mathematical studies. He again started with Descartes, from whose *La Géometrie* he branched out into lớn the other literature of modern analysis with its application of algebraic techniques khổng lồ problems of geometry. He then reached bachồng for the tư vấn of classical geometry. Within little more than a year, he had mastered the literature; and, pursuing his own line of analysis, he began to move sầu inkhổng lồ new territory. He discovered the binomial theorem, and he developed the calculus, a more powerful form of analysis that employs infinitesimal considerations in finding the slopes of curves and areas under curves.

By 1669 Newton was ready khổng lồ write a tract summarizing his progress, *De Analysi per Aequationes Numeri Terminorum Infinitas* (“On Analysis by Infinite Series”), which circulated in manuscript through a limited circle and made his name known. During the next two years he revised it as *De methodis serierum et fluxionum* (“On the Methods of Series and Fluxions”). The word *fluxions*, Newton’s private rubric, indicates that the calculus had been born. Despite the fact that only a handful of savants were even aware of Newton’s existence, he had arrived at the point where he had become the leading mathematician in Europe.

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## Work during the plague years

When Newton received the bachelor’s degree in April 1665, the most remarkable undergraduate career in the history of university education had passed unrecognized. On his own, without formal guidance, he had sought out the new philosophy & the new mathematics and made them his own, but he had confined the progress of his studies khổng lồ his notebooks. Then, in 1665, the plague closed the university, & for most of the following two years he was forced lớn stay at his home, contemplating at leisure what he had learned. During the plague years Newton laid the foundations of the calculus and extended an earlier insight inkhổng lồ an essay, “Of Colours,” which contains most of the ideas elaborated in his *Opticks*. It was during this time that he examined the elements of circular motion and, applying his analysis to lớn the Moon & the planets, derived the inverse square relation that the radially directed force acting on a planet decreases with the square of its distance from the Sun—which was later crucial to the law of universal gravitation. The world heard nothing of these discoveries.

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