Isaac Newton was born in 1642 in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England, and is the author of probably the most important scientific book in history. He was a difficult man, and a genius, who spent the majority of his time pursuing heretical religious beliefs and trying to solve the great problems of alchemy – the science for which he is famous was merely a distraction.Young Isaac had an unhappy childhood. His father, a wealthy landowner, died before he was born, and his mother abandoned him to the care of his grandmother when he was only two years old. At his new home, he was treated as an orphan and was not included in After finishing his schooling, he studied at Cambridge from 1661, and did well enough that he was elected a Fellow of Trinity College six years later, and became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669. He continued teaching at the university until 1696.
The most famous story about Newton is set between the years 1665 and 1666, when an outbreak of Plague led him to seek refuge in the town of Lincolnshire. The story goes that while he was thinking about the motions of the moon and planets, he saw an apple fall from a tree. He had been wondering what it was that made them stick to the orbits that Kepler had figured out decades before, and it occurred to him that the force that held them in place might be the same force that pulled the apple down to Earth. This eventually led him to the remarkable discovery of a universal force which affects every single thing in the universe, which we now know to be gravity. Of course, nobody knows how much of the story is true (The apple tree was definitely there, but who knows if he was watching it when he had his insight!), but the impact of his theory of Universal Gravitation changed the world so profoundly that Isaac Newton is commonly held to be the father of modern science.
Written by Allen Versfeld
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