When Newton was not yet twenty-five years old, he formulated calculus, hit upon the idea of gravity, and discovered that white light was made up of all the colors of the spectrum. By 1678, Newton designed a telescope to study the movement of the planets and published Principia, a milestone in the history of science, which set forth his famous laws of motion and universal gravitation. Newton’s long-time research on calculus, finally made public in 1704, triggered a heated controversy as European scientists accused him of plagiarizing the work of the German scientist Gottfried Leibniz. In this third volume in the acclaimed Ackroyd’s Brief Lives series, bestselling author Peter Ackroyd provides an engaging portrait of Isaac Newton, illuminating what we think we know about him and describing his seminal contributions to science and mathematics. A man of wide and eclectic interests, Newton blurred the borders between natural philosophy and speculation: he was as passionate about astrology as astronomy and dabbled in alchemy, while his religious faith was never undermined by his determination to interpret a modern universe as a mathematical universe. By brining vividly to life a somewhat puritanical man whose desire to experiment and explore bordered on the obsessive, Peter Ackroyd demonstrates the unique brilliance of Newton’s perceptions, which changed our understanding of the world.From the Hardcover edition.
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I read this because I knew very little about Isaac Newton other than his laws of motion, which like you I learned in high school science classes. In under 200 pages, I learned the truth about the apple story--Newton told four different versions--and many other fascinating things about Newton.more
Ackroyd’s prose always hustles the reader right along, deeper into his subject, and, in Newton, what a subject he found! This edition, one of the series of Brief Lives, by Doubleday, is a joy to hold and read, with hard board covers and hand-cut pages, fitting into the hand as sweetly as Ackroyd’s writing. Newton, a middle-class lad destined for agricultural life, inheriting a small holding from his farmer father, astounded all with his inherent genius. True to the lore, it was apparent very early in his life, sustained throughout it, and undisputed still. Shy, reclusive yet aware of himself and his own genius, Newton spent most of his life bound within his college. Reluctant to publish his astounding conclusions, rejecting wider fame because others may dispute his findings, he somehow became famous … but few dared to offer contentions for his deductions and hypothesis.A great little book about an enormous mind and an enormous service to mankind - ”if I have served the publik interest it is only through hard work” he said. Perhaps, but ably assisted by an intelligence that still reigns supreme.more