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Isaac Newton

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Isaac Newton

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    Available in PDF Format | Isaac Newton.pdf | English
    James Gleick(Author)

From one of the best writers on science, a portrait of Isaac Newton – the man who changed our understanding of the universe, of science, and of faith.

‘It’s beautifully paced and very stylishly written: compact, atmospheric, elegant. It offers a brilliant and engaging study in the paradoxes of the scientific imagination. It’s more revealing than a falling apple!’ Richard Holmes

Isaac Newton was the chief architect of the modern world. He answered the ancient philosophical riddles of light and motion; he effectively discovered gravity; he salvaged the terms ‘time’, ‘space’, ‘motion’ and ‘place’ from the haze of everyday language, standardized them and married them, each to the other, constructing an edifice that made knowledge a thing of substance: quantative and exact. Creation, Newton demonstrated, unfolds from simple rules, patterns iterated over unlimited distances.

What Newton learned remains the essence of what we know. Newton’s laws are our laws. When we speak of momentum, of forces and masses, we are seeing the world as Newtonians. When we seek mathematical laws for economic cycles and human behaviour, we stand on Newton’s shoulders. Our very deeming the universe as solvable is his legacy.

This was the achievement of a reclusive professor, recondite theologian and fervent alchemist. A man who feared the light of exposure, shrank from controversy and seldom published his work. In his daily life he emulated the complex secrecy in which he saw the riddles of the universe encoded. His vision of nature was of its time; he never purged occult, hidden, mystical qualities. But he pushed open a door that led to a new universe.

It is a brave writer who tackles a biography of the world famous pioneer mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton and James Gleick has acquitted himself superbly well in his new bookIsaac Newton. Accolades to Newton were piling up even during his early lifetime in the 17th century when such fame was usually confined to royalty, popes and archbishops and certainly not to ordinary mortals born in 1642 of yeomen stock in deepest rural England. According to Gleick, Newton was the first person whose attainment "lay in the realm of the mind" to have a state funeral and be buried in Westminster Abbey. A Latin inscription proclaimed his "strength of mind almost divine" with "mathematical principles peculiarly his own" and declared that "mortals rejoice that there has existed so great an ornament of the human race"--not bad for a farm boy from Lincolnshire.

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Book details

  • PDF | 288 pages
  • James Gleick(Author)
  • Fourth Estate; Uncorrected bound proof edition (1 Sept. 2003)
  • English
  • 8
  • Biography

Review Text

  • By Laurence Paul on 18 May 2016

    James Gleick has offered his readership a scientifically sanitised but predominantly human biography of Sir Isaac Newton. Even when a reader actually works within the world of physical sciences, mathematics or analysis (as I do myself), I believe that sometimes we all wish to understand more about the private life of great, infamous or notable doers and thinkers.Often in his field of work Newton was innovative and his theories were apt to be seminal. Calculus, light, motion, gravity, etc. all confirm his celebrated and deserved status. Additionally, although Gleick's book shows Newton to be idiosyncratic, particular of thought and almost toxically reclusive, Newton is also shown to be sufficiently self-aware to be able to accept and expound the notion that mankind was probably on the verge of exponential cerebral expansion. How right he was.Further, the author reveals Newton as the spiritually-aware scientist, who eventually himself came to believe, that he was merely bringing to light (pun intended) The Creator's own technical and mathematical system by which the whole stable edifice of the known universe was built; and upon the health and well-being of which the world's very continuation would depend.As a writer, Gleick excels himself in demonstrating Sir Isaac's paradoxically insular behaviour to peers and contemporaries whilst masking such a brilliantly extrovert mind containing such an unrivalled capacity for almost unbridled reason and accurate prognosis. The modern sub-atomic and algorithmically-charged machine-learning world today owes Newton so very much for pointing the way forward, but I believe readers have a debt also to Gleick for conjuring in homage Newton the man in an obviously admiring but readable style.If you are interested, then please see my reviews on 'Newton's Gift' (Berlinski) - offering some maths and science; 'Isaac Newton The Last Sorcerer,' (White) - offering biography and alchemical adventures; and also 'Newton and the Counterfeiter' (Levenson) - offering the lesser-known Newton as 'Royal Mint 'production director' and 'counter-counterfeiting sleuth and thief-taker.'Enjoy your Newtonian reading.

  • By L.W on 8 June 2016

    A explosive account of arguably the greatest geniuses in the history of Great Britain. The biography is very well structured, with detailed sometimes moving accounts of Newton's life, work and relations. I found the section on Newton's interaction with the coin industry to be my favourite.

  • By JK on 14 July 2016

    I hardly ever write reviews of anything, but I want to help people avoid wasting money on this. The book is (mercifully) short, gave me no insight into Newton. No facts about his life apart from a few tedious arguments with Hooke. You find out more in 10 minutes on Wikipedia than in 10 hours wading through this boring book.

  • By Rob Crompton on 18 May 2004

    An excellent read for those interested in the person of Newton. Gleick does an excellent job of presenting the story of his life within the context of the wider scientific and philosophical world at the time.Those expecting a good deal of mathematics will be disapointed but lets face it there's plenty of maths and history of maths around! Those readers who really insist on looking more closely at this aspect of his work could do what I did and furnish themselves with a copy Motte's translation of Principia.My only cricism of the work would be the extensive section of notes - all necessary I agree but many, other than simple references, could have been included in the main body of the text. I found it quite irritating at times having to flick back and forth and this spoilt the continuity somewhat.

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