Isaac Newton was born in a stone farmhouse in 1642, fatherless and unwanted by his mother. When he died in London in 1727 he was so renowned he was given a state funeral—an unheard-of honor for a subject whose achievements were in the realm of the intellect. During the years he was an irascible presence at Trinity College, Cambridge, Newton imagined properties of nature and gave them names—mass, gravity, velocity—things our science now takes for granted. Inspired by Aristotle, spurred on by Galileo’s discoveries and the philosophy of Descartes, Newton grasped the intangible and dared to take its measure, a leap of the mind unparalleled in his generation.
James Gleick, the author of Chaos and Genius, and one of the most acclaimed science writers of his generation, brings the reader into Newton’s reclusive life and provides startlingly clear explanations of the concepts that changed forever our perception of bodies, rest, and motion—ideas so basic to the twenty-first century, it can truly be said: We are all Newtonians.
Finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
The Clockwork Universe is the story of a band of menwho lived in a world of dirt and disease but pictured auniverse that ran like a perfect machine. A meld ofhistory and science, this book is a group portrait ofsome of the greatest minds who ever lived as theywrestled with nature’s most sweeping mysteries. Theanswers they uncovered still hold the key to how weunderstand the world.
At the end of the seventeenth century—an age ofreligious wars, plague, and the Great Fire of London—when most people saw the world as falling apart, theseearliest scientists saw a world of perfect order. They declaredthat, chaotic as it looked, the universe was in factas intricate and perfectly regulated as a clock. This wasthe tail end of Shakespeare’s century, when the naturaland the supernatural still twined around each other. Diseasewas a punishment ordained by God, astronomy hadnot yet broken free from astrology, and the sky was filledwith omens. It was a time when little was known andeverything was new. These brilliant, ambitious, curiousmen believed in angels, alchemy, and the devil, and theyalso believed that the universe followed precise, mathematicallaws—a contradiction that tormented them andchanged the course of history.
The Clockwork Universe is the fascinating and compellingstory of the bewildered geniuses of the RoyalSociety, the men who made the modern world.
Destined to become the standard biography of Isaac Newton, this meticulously detailed work centers on his scientific career, but also deals with every facet of his life. Westfall has drawn on recent research which has fundamentally altered our perception of Newton.
Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles) (1687) is considered to be among the finest scientific works ever published. His grand unifying idea of gravitation, with effects extending throughout the solar system, explains by one principle such diverse phenomena as the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and the irregularities of the moon's motion.
Newton's brilliant and revolutionary contributions to science explained the workings of a large part of inanimate nature mathematically and suggested that the remainder might be understood in a similar fashion. By taking known facts, forming a theory that explained them in mathematical terms, deducing consequences from the theory, and comparing the results with observed and experimental facts, Newton united, for the first time, the explication of physical phenomena with the means of prediction. By beginning with the physical axioms of the laws of motion and gravitation, he converted physics from a mere science of explanation into a general mathematical system.
Unknown to all but a few, Newton was a practicing alchemist who dabbled with the occult, a tortured, obsessive character who searched for an understanding of the universe by whatever means possible. Sympathetic yet balanced, Michael White’s Isaac Newton offers a revelatory picture of Newton as a genius who stood at the point in history where magic ended and science began.
Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.
As an inventor, astronomer, physicist, and philosopher, Isaac Newton forever changed the way we see and understand the world. At one point, he was the world’s leading authority in mathematics, optics, and alchemy. And surprisingly he wrote more about faith and religion than on all of these subjects combined. But his single-minded focus on knowledge and discovery was a great detriment to his health. Newton suffered from fits of mania, insomnia, depression, a nervous breakdown, and even mercury poisoning.
Yet from all of his suffering came great gain. Newton saw the scientific world not as a way to refute theology, but as a way to explain it. He believed that all of creation was mandated and set in motion by God and that it was simply waiting to be “discovered” by man. Because of his diligence in both scientific and biblical study, Newton had a tremendous impact on religious thought that is still evident today.
At last—an illuminating and accessible edition of Isaac Newton's writings, intended for nonspecialist readers. I. Bernard Cohen and Richard S. Westfall have meticulously collected representative works from every major aspect of Newton's intellectual life.
The book is divided into nine parts—Natural Philosophy, Scientific Method, Experimental Procedure, Optics, Rational Mechanics, Systems of the World, Alchemy and Theory of Matter, Theology, and Mathematics. Text and commentary are woven together, enabling readers to concentrate on the aspects of Newton's astoundingly diverse career they prefer. For each part, the editors provide an introductory essay and textual annotation. In addition, the text is amply illustrated.
The General Introduction to the book sketches Newton's life and offers an interpretation of his scientific achievements. The Biographical Register identifies the many people Newton cites in his writings. The Glossary and Glossary of Chemical Terms explicate scientific terms and concepts. Finally, the Selected Bibliography offers suggestions for further readings of and about Newton.
In this witty, engaging, and often moving examination of Newton's life, David Berlinski recovers the man behind the mathematical breakthroughs. The story carries the reader from Newton's unremarkable childhood to his awkward undergraduate days at Cambridge through the astonishing year in which, working alone, he laid the foundation for his system of the world, his Principia Mathematica, and to the subsequent monumental feuds that poisoned his soul and wearied his supporters.
An edifying appreciation of Newton's greatest accomplishment, Newton's Gift is also a touching celebration of a transcendent man.
In this elegant, absorbing biography of Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Rupert Hall surveys the vast field of modern scholarship in order to interpret Newton's mathematical and experimental approach to nature. Mathematics was always the deepest, most innovative and productive of Newton's interests. However, he was also a historian, theologian, chemist, civil servant and natural philosopher. These diverse studies were unified in his single design as a Christian to explore every facet of God's creation. The exploration during the past forty years of Newton's huge manuscript legacy, has greatly altered previous stories of Newton's life, throwing new light on his personality and intellect. Hall's discussion of this research, first published in 1992, shows that Newton cannot simply be explained as a Platonist, or mystic. He remains a complex and enigmatic genius with an immensely imaginative and commonsensical mind.