Isaac Newton, 1642-1727
The English scientist and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), was born at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, near Grantham. A rather dour man whose relationship with his own family was at best strained, Newton entered Trinty College, Cambridge, in 1661 and received his B.A. four years later. In 1665 or 1666, Newton found himself sitting in his mother's garden when he was struck by the idea that the force which caused an apple to strike him in the head was the same force which kept the planets in their orbits. And thus he began to ruminate on the theory of gravity.
In 1669, Newton was accepted as Lucasian professor of Mathematics at Cambridge and a few years later was elected a member of the Royal Society. Although he devoted equal amounts of time to his studies in theology, optics, and alchemy, it was his work on gravity which earned him his place in the canon of western scientific genius. On the solicitation of Edmund Halley, Newton published his magnum opus on gravity, Philosophie Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687. With this single work Newton crushed the medieval world view and ushered in the epoch of modern science.
An unlikable and unapproachable man, Newton worked in solitude in his rooms at Cambridge. He left Cambridge in 1696 after having been appointed warden of the Mint, and was master of the Mint from 1699 till the end of his life. He also served as president of the Royal Society from 1703 until his death in 1727. Newton is buried in Westminster Abbey.
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