27 Interesting Facts About Isaac Newton

Last updated on November 16th, 2017

Sir Isaac Newton, after a very humble beginning, became and formed the basis of modern physics – after so much of his pondering and experimentation – it is possible today that we derive great benefits from his inventions and discoveries.

His famous equations about the existence of the force of gravity and mass, made him one of the most remembered and studied scientists of the modern world. The famous fall of an apple over his head is believed to be just a story, and not a fact, by various historians who doubt the incidence and just favor it to be a form of story for generations to come. With these 27 interesting facts about Isaac Newton, let’s learn about his life, education, work, and more…

Facts about Isaac Newton’s childhood, education and family

#1. Sir Isaac Newton was born premature and had little to no chance of survival. It was a christmans morning in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire.

#2. He was born in 1642, the same year, Galileo died.

#3. His father, who was a farmer, died three months before Newton was born. He was raised by his grandmother after his mother remarried.

#4. Newton hated his stepfather and threatened to burn his house down.

#5. History tells that he was not a good student who would excel in studies. He had to work as a servant to pay his bills and he liked to keep a journal of his ideas and thoughts.

#6. During his school age years, he disliked poetry and literature and was fascinated by technology and mechanics. He developed sundials which was very accurate.

#7. Newton had written in his college notebooks about himself, “Making pies on Sunday night… punching my sister… threatening my Father and Mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.”

Sir Isaac Newtons notebook 1661
Sir Isaac Newton’s notebook 1661 Image Credit

#8. Newton’s mother wanted him to be a farmer but Newton disliked farming.

#9. Isaac Barrow, who is Cambridge’s first professor of mathematics, is the source of inspiration behind Newton’s work on Calculus.

#10. Newton, reportedly could not understand mathematics from the books he bought for his studies. During 1665 and the following year, Cambridge where Newton got enrolled for studies, was closed due to Black Death Plague. During this time, Newton completed his much accomplished work on properties of light, calculus and motion of celestial bodies. And he obtained his masters degree from Cambridge after these laws were formulated by him.

Facts about Newton’s work in physics, mathematics, fascination about nature, religious faith and more…

#11. Newton worked on diffraction of light, universal gravitation, centrifugal force, centripetal force, and the effects and characteristics of bodies in motion.

#12. Newton did not like criticism and made lifelong enemies with those who criticized him.

#13. When Newton was being criticized by fellow scientists, he began a life of solitude and total isolation in 1679, and remained in this state for the next 6 years of his life.

#14. Interestingly, Newton was very secretive during his entire career.

#15. During this time, his mother was on her death bed. And Newton started pondering upon the nature of life. These ideas regarding the nature of life, is believed to be the inspiration of his theories of gravity, which are the most important equations still governing a lot of physical sciences.

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#16. In 1684, Newton was again startled by a fellow scientist and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. A mathematical paper published by Leibniz tried to solve the mystery of nature with the help of mathematical expressions. Newton responded with a statement that he had already done the same work almost 20 years before, and the German philosopher had copied and stolen his work.

#17. A foundation of modern science: The Principia Mathematica was published by Newton in 1687. This book was the work of thinking for almost 20 years and it took two years for Newton to compile the book. This book contained the concept and theories of universal gravitation, the three laws of motion and his theory of calculus. This book fostered his reputation, and is a source of knowledge and inspiration to millions of scientists, today.

#18. Newton suffered twice with nervous breakdown. This happened when he suspected that his friends conspired against him.

#19. There is no concrete evidence about the famous apple hitting Newton in his head, and inspiring him about his research on gravitation and the related theories.

#20. Newton was a very religious man and also studied the book of nature very passionately out of his curiosity. He wanted to study these subjects to discover a single system of the world that would explain everything.

Newton’s involvement in calculus and politics; his prediction of the end of world, inspiration for Einstein etc…

21. Newton played a significant role in recovering Britain from financial crises in the 17th century. At that time, almost 10% of Britain’s currency was forged. Newton had to recall the old currency and issue a more reliable one. He kept a database of offenders and prosecuted them. Later, he was appointed as Master of the Mint in 1700 and held this post for the rest of his life.

#22. Newton was obsessed by power and reputation.

#23. Newton declared himself as the man who invented calculus through a report published by the Royal Society. The other man competing for the honor was Leibniz. Both these scientists disputed over the precedence of their work on calculus.

#24. On March 20, 1927, Newton died, unmarried, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

#25. The most valuable tooth in the world belongs to Newton. His tooth was sold in 1816 at an auction for approx $3600.

#26. Newton estimated that the word would end no earlier than 2060.

#27. Newton was also a source of inspiration for Albert Einstein, who is also a remarkable physicist and scientist of our times.

10 quotations by Sir Isaac Newton

1. “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”

2. “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”

3. “If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.”

4. “A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.”

5. “No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”

6. “Errors are not in the art but in the artificers.”

7. “What goes up must come down.”

8. “Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

9. “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.”

And our Favorite:

10. “Genius is patience.”

Books by Isaac Newton that were published during his lifetime

  • De analysi per aequationes numero terminorum infinitas (1669, published 1711)
  • Method of Fluxions (1671)
  • Of Natures Obvious Laws & Processes in Vegetation (unpublished, c. 1671–75)[148]
  • De motu corporum in gyrum (1684)
  • Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687)
  • Opticks (1704)
  • Reports as Master of the Mint (1701–25)
  • Arithmetica Universalis (1707)

Books that were published posthumously