Isaac Newton, The Asshole Who Reinvented the Universe
A blunt and humorous profile of Isaac Newton focusing on his disagreeable personality and showing that his offputting qualities were key to his scientific breakthroughs. Isaac Newton may have been the most important scientist in history, but he was a very difficult man. Put more bluntly, he was an asshole, an SOB, or whatever epithet best describes an abrasive egomaniac. In this colorful profile of the great man--warts and all--astronomer Florian Freistetter shows why this damning assessment is inescapable. Newton's hatred of fellow scientist Robert Hooke knew no bounds and he was strident in expressing it. He stole the work of colleague John Flamsteed, ruining his career without a second thought. He carried on a venomous battle with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz over the invention of calculus, vilifying him anonymously while the German scientist was alive and continuing the attacks after he died. All evidence indicates that Newton was conniving, sneaky, resentful, secretive, and antisocial. Compounding the mystery of his strange character is that he was also a religious fanatic, a mystery-monger who spent years studying the Bible and predicted the apocalypse. While documenting all of these unusual traits, the author makes a convincing case that Newton would have never revolutionized physics if he hadn't been just such an obnoxious person. This is a fascinating character study of an astounding genius and--if truth be told--an almighty asshole as well.
- Hardback | 224 pages
- 136 x 185 x 21mm | 277g
- 04 Sep 2018
- Prometheus Books
- Amherst, United States
- 0 Illustrations, unspecified
""Sir Isaac Newton is something of a paradoxical figure. On the one hand, he was an undeniable genius, and his huge influence on our understanding of the universe continues to this day. On the other hand, he was a thoroughly unpleasant individual, who unnecessarily made enemies and who also devoted huge amounts of time to researching what we would now see as absurd ideas on alchemy and on the contents of the Bible. This excellent and very readable book explores all these aspects of the man in an informative and entertaining way. Highly recommended." --David K. Love, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and author of Kepler and the Universe "A refreshingly disrespectful historical portrait of an exceptional genius. And yet always characterized by huge expertise and admiration. A very educational and fun read!" --P.M. Magazin (Germany) "In Einstein's study in Berlin hung a picture of Newton, for Einstein knew very well whose shoulders he was standing on when he worked on the general theory of relativity; it was Newton who had invented the concepts (mass, space, time, momentum, force) and the mathematical tools that made the exploration of our universe possible. Yes, one might say, he invented theoretical physics. Florian Freistetter has succeeded admirably in explaining the significance of the universal law of gravitation, as well as Newton's discoveries in optics ajnd mathematics, and he does so without the use of a single equation. He also reminds the reader that alchemy and theology occupied Newton's mind as much as did physics--a not uncommon mix at the dawn of the scientific age. Though Newton is chided for his lack of social graces in his dealings with rival investigators, competitiveness remains the very essence of science." --Josef Eisinger, physicist, author of Einstein on the Road and editor/translator of Einstein at Home "Freistetter casts new light on Newton's character and behavior in terms of how it might--or might not--fit into today's scientific establishment. A well-written and richly detailed book." --Gerrit Stratmann, Deutschlandradio Kultur "Freistetter is the perfect author for this uniquely universal book." --Marc Abrahams, editor of Annals of Improbable Research
About Florian Freistetter
Florian Freistetter is an award-winning freelance science journalist and the author of several popular-science books on astronomy, including Stephen Hawking: His Science in a Nutshell. He has also published more than five thousand articles on his blog, Astrodicticum Simplex, one of the most-read German-language science blogs, and he writes a weekly column about mathematics for spektrum.de, as well as many other articles for various publications. Since 2015, he has produced and performed in humorous popular-science presentations in theaters in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland and on the television show Science Busters. Having previously taught astronomy at the University of Heidelberg, Jena, and Vienna, he now hosts Sternengeschichten ("Star Stories"), a weekly podcast on astronomy.