Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

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

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 24mm | 200g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperPerennial
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0007163185
  • 9780007163182
  • 89,337

Review quote

'The book has the magic of a wonderful laboratory experiment...A masterpiece of clarity - so difficult to write, so easy to read.' Michael Holroyd 'A fresh and brilliant portrait of his personality and life, the people who mattered to him, the influences which played on him, and the contexts of his achievements.' Oliver Sacks 'After reading Jim Gleick's beautifully written and intimate portrait of Newton, I felt as is I'd spent an evening by the fire with that complex and troubled genius.' Alan Lightman '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' Richard Holmesshow more

About James Gleick

James Gleick was born in New York in 1954. He worked for ten years as an editor and reporter for The New York Times. He is the bestselling author of Chaos, Genius, Faster, and What Just more

Review Text

Newton was the Einstein of his day, a genius whose scientific discoveries brought a greater understanding of our universe and led directly to the space age. Every child knows how Newton watched apples falling from trees and so discovered gravity. What few people know is what Newton the man was really like. We can only say that even by the standards of his own time he was an oddball - the sort of character with whom few people felt comfortable. In this biography, James Gleick, an American science writer and Pulitzer Prize finalist, attempts to get into Newton's psyche. Newton tried hard not to leave any clues about himself but conclusions can be drawn from what is known of his lifestyle and what others of the time said about him. The result is an engrossing study of a man with as many hang-ups as flashes of brilliance. Even as a ten-year-old in 1653, Newton showed a grasp of complex issues far beyond his years. But beneath that maturity lurked a sensitive soul that longed for love and didn't get it. His mother apparently cared little for him, separating him from his siblings and sending him off to a distant school. That rejection was to shape Newton's outlook on life. He grew up a furtive, secretive individual who made amazing discoveries but often kept them to himself for years. As an adult he lived reclusively, seldom leaving his rooms and shunning the company of the few people who wanted to be his friends. He dabbled in occultism, spent his evenings surrounded by the paraphernalia of alchemy, and hated putting his thoughts to paper. Despite all this he made astounding breakthroughs in various branches of science - a fact that drew world acclaim but left him feeling more vulnerable than ever. Gleick has performed a remarkable job in showing Newton as the misunderstood man he was - a genius with psychological flaws but a good heart. (Kirkus UK)show more