Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist was born on 25th December 1642 in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England and died on 20 March 1726. He has described in his day as a “natural philosopher” who is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution was the greatest scientist who ever lived. More than any other person, Isaac Newton was single-handedly responsible for laying the groundwork in the classical mechanics, optics, and even in mathematics. Regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time, Isaac Newton’s contributions to the field of physics are unparalleled. His book, the Principia Mathematica, is still one of the most important and relevant scientific works in history, even now, 300 years after it was first published.
Newton was the son of an unlettered farmer, who was a sensitive loner and often secretive about his work. Find out more about this fascinating Englishman, from his long-term interest in alchemy to the job he held that involved sending people to the gallows to the cause of one of his most bitter rivalries. Even though this world-changing scientist was more than just the work he produced, he was a man with many dimensions and eccentricities. The fascinating Isaac Newton facts above are ample proof of that. It doesn’t make him a completely sane or exceptionally happy person. Sir Isaac Newton’s life was in every way weird, mysterious and interesting. Find out 25 interesting and unknown facts about Sir Isaac Newton because it is always fun to read about people who left an impression on humanity that is not going to fade until humankind ceases to exist.
Top 25 Interesting Facts About Isaac Newton
1. Newton’s Birthday Celebrated As Newtonmas
Newton’s birthday falls on December 25th, and hence some non-believers celebrate 25 December as Newtonmas under the Old Style Julian Calendar, as an alternative to celebrating the religious holiday Christmas. During which the celebrants exchange boxes of apples and science related items as gifts. The name Newtonmas attributes to the Skeptics Society, which needed an alternative name for its Christmas party.
2. Baby Newton Wasn’t Expected To Live
Isaac Newton has born prematurely on the Christmas Day. Isaac was a very small baby, and he was not expected to survive. His mother even said that Isaac was so small that he could have fit inside a quart mug. He was a premature and sickly infant that some thought would not live long. There is controversy about this date, as some said that he was born on January 4, 1643. The discrepancy is due to the adoption of the new Gregorian calendar. The year 1642 was the year in which Galileo Galilei died.
3. Newton Hadn’t Led A Happy Childhood
Newton was born three months after the death of his father Isaac, who was an illiterate farmer. When Newton was three, his mother married Barnabas Smith, a wealthy clergyman who didn’t want a stepson. Newton’s maternal grandmother raised him for many years. The experience of being abandoned by his mother scarred Newton, and that incident played a key role in shaping his solitary and untrusting nature. Newton had even written that he wanted to “Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.”
4. Newton’s Academic Revenge
Initially, Newton wasn’t a strong student, and when a bully in the school dominated him, Newton challenged him a fight in the studies and won. Newton did well in academics as it was partially due to his desire to take revenge against this schoolyard bully and that helped Newton became a top-ranked student, as he applied himself to be the best. During his school years, he disliked poetry and literature and was fascinated by technology and mechanics. Isaac Newton went to King’s School in Grantham before registering at the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College in 1661.
5. Newton’s Mother Wanted Him To Be A Farmer
However, at age 15 or 16, he was ordered to quit school by his mother and return to his home-town, Woolsthorpe Manor to become a farmer. Newton was uninterested in the job and fared poorly at it. Eventually, his mother was persuaded by her son’s former headmaster in Grantham to allow him to return to school. After finishing his coursework there, Newton left for Trinity College, the University of Cambridge in 1661, putting farming behind him for good.
6. Black Death Plague Led To The Newton’s Much-Accomplished Work
Newton, reportedly could not understand the mathematics from the books he had bought for his studies. During 1665 and in the following year, Newton got enrolled for studies in Cambridge which 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 master’s degree from Cambridge after he formulated these laws.
7. Newton Stuck A Needle On His Eye For Inquisitiveness
Newton’s inquisitiveness may have led to significant discoveries, but it also made him do strange things. “To see what would happen” he has once stared at the sun with one eye until he could bear it. For the same reason he also once stuck a large needle into his eye socket, twiddled it around and calmly noted that he saw white, dark and colored circles. Thankfully his eyes got recovered from these strange experiments.
8. Newton And His Apple – The True Story
The “apple tree” story has had never happened. History says the famous story of how Newton was resting under a tree when an apple fell on his head, creating a famous “eureka” moment and leading to his laws of gravitation. However, that is all apocryphal. Newton himself had said that he merely saw an apple fall from a tree while walking through the garden, although some assume this story to be a myth as well.
9. Newton’s Lectures Were Poorly Attended At Cambridge
In 1669, Isaac Newton at 26 years, was appointed as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in one of the world’s oldest universities, Cambridge as its origins date back to 1209. Newton was the second person to own the Lucasian professorship. Though he remained at Cambridge for about 30 years, Newton showed little interest in teaching or his students, and his lectures were sparsely attended, and frequently, no one showed up at all. Newton’s attention was focused on his research.
10. Newton – The Inventor Of Cat Flaps
Newton was credited with the invention of the cat flap or cat door, a small door within the door for the pet. It was also said that Newton had foolishly made a larger door for the cat and a smaller one for her kittens, not recognizing that the kittens could use the larger one. The accuracy of the story was however debated, and Newton’s biographers maintain that he owned neither cat nor dog in his chamber. But it had been verified that there are two holes in his door about the right size for a cat and a kitten to pass through.
11. Newton – An Alchemist Who Aimed To Find Philosopher’s Stone
Perhaps the most surprising fact about Newton is that he has a firm believer in alchemy. One of his greatest ambitions was to find the Philosopher’s Stone: The secret of turning common metals into gold. Newton had a keen interest in alchemy. He had spent much time in the study of the alchemists including Jacob Boehme and went on to write 169 books dealing with Alchemy. One of Isaac Newton’s aims was to find the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life through his experiments.
12. Newton Wanted To Divine Future Events
Newton worked to extract scientific information from the Bible and other religious texts. He learned Hebrew and studied Kabbalism and the Talmud to divine future events. Thus, Newton dabbled in many fringes and occult studies and practices, which resulted in his beliefs that the world could end as early as 2060, that humans could perhaps literally speak with the angels, and that the lost city of Atlantis may, in fact, be real.
13. Newton – Royal Mint’s Job Of Warden
Newton was selected to the Job of Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, which was responsible for producing the currency of England. He left Cambridge and moved the Tower of London, where Mint is located. Three years later, Newton was promoted to the more lucrative position of master of the mint, a post he held until his death in 1727. Isaac Newton supervised a major initiative to take off the country’s old coins out of circulation and replaced them with more reliable currency. Newton took the job very seriously and personally pursued counterfeiters. Back then counterfeiting was considered as high treason and punishable by death. Newton apprehended and successfully prosecuted many counterfeiters.
14. Newton’s Principia Mathematica
Newton published the Principia Mathematica in the year 1687 which was a foundation of the modern science. The book was the work of thinking for almost two decades, and it took two years for Newton to compile the book. The book contained the concept and theories of the universal gravitation, the three laws of motion and his theory of calculus. The book fostered his reputation, and is a source of knowledge and inspiration to the millions of scientists, today.
15. Newton’s Views About Universe
Sir Isaac Newton said that our universe continued to decrease in its density and fall in temperature. Hence the typical energy of each particle was decreasing. He was the one who said Earth is not perfectly round. Isaac Newton first proposed that Earth was not round and he suggested it was an oblate spheroid, a sphere that is squashed at its poles and swollen at the equator. Newton was right, because of the bulge, the distance from Earth’s center to sea level is roughly 21 kilometers (approx 13 miles) greater at the equator than at the poles.
16. Newton Had Fierce Rivalries
Newton could be jealous and vindictive when it came to his intellectual rivals. Among those with whom he fought was German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. The two men had a bitter battle over who invented calculus. Newton has developed a version of calculus in 1660’s but didn’t publish his work at the time. In 1670’s, Leibniz formulated his version of calculus and published his work a decade later. Newton then charged that the German scholar had plagiarized his unpublished writings after documents summarizing it circulated through the Royal Society. However, today Leibniz’s system of calculus is the one commonly used.
17. Newton’s Friends
Despite his feud with Hooke, Newton was also friends with many other influential scientists of his time. It includes Christopher Wren, one of the most successful architects of all time, and Edmond Halley who paid for the publication of Newton’s Principia Mathematica. Famous Isaac Newton quotes about friendship include:
“Plato is my friend – Aristotle is my friend – but my greatest friend is truth.”
18. Newton Was Deeply Religious
Although Newton was one of the history’s foremost men of science, Newton also had a deep yet complicated relationship with Christianity and published many writings on the Bible. Notably, he wrote more about religion than about science or mathematics. Newton’s work, particularly on the laws of motion and universal gravitation, had been used by some people to argue against the existence of God. Newton himself, however, said
“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”
However, Newton was unorthodox when it comes to his belief in the devil, spirits, and ghosts. He has also assailed people who claimed to be tempted by the personal demons as deluded by their imaginations.
19. Newton Holds The Most Valuable Tooth
Newton has history’s most valuable tooth. One of his teeth was sold in 1816 at auction for approximately $3,600 in London to an aristocrat who then passed it to have it set in the ring. In today’s terms, that’s about $35,000, prompting Guinness World Records 2012 to declare it the most valuable tooth in the world.
20. Newton Spoke One Word In His Parliment Tenure
From 1689 to 1690, Newton was the Member of Parliament, representing Cambridge University. Newton’s contributions to Parliament apparently were limited, though he had reportedly spoken only once, that too when he was asked by an usher to close a window because it was chilly. Newton had served a second brief term in Parliament, from 1701 to 1702, and again seems to have contributed little.
21. Newton – A Hater Of Criticism
Also, Isaac Newton did not like criticisms and made lifelong enemies with those who had criticized him. When fellow scientists were criticizing Newton, he began a life of solitude and total isolation in 1679 and remained in this state for the next six years of his life. He was notoriously fiery in debates over his work, even suffering a nervous breakdown and secluding himself from the public life following one such debate in 1678.
22. Newton – A Secretive Who Rarely Published
Newton was brilliant, but the majority of Newton’s discoveries were made between his twenty-first and twenty-seventh years were not known. He hadn’t disclosed these findings to the world until the years later. For example, Newton’s work on optics, his ground-breaking experiments on the nature of light were done in 1669 when Newton was just 27 years old. He had first presented his findings to the British Royal Society three years later when he was elected as a fellow.
23. Newton’s Eccentric Behavior – Mercury Might Be The Reason
Newton’s alchemic experiments with the metals often included analysis of taste of which there are 108 documented, including mercury which has a strong, sourish, and ungrateful taste. Chemical poisoning as a result of these experiments is often mentioned as one of the reasons behind Newton’s nervous breakdown in 1693. After the death of Newton, his hair was examined and found to contain high levels of mercury. It might be the cause behind his eccentric behavior in later life.
24. Newton Died As A Virgin
Newton had never married and scarcely sought the romantic company of women. The famous French philosopher Voltaire once wrote of Newton that he “was never sensible to any passion, was not subject to the common frailties of mankind, nor had any commerce with women, a circumstance that was assured by the physician and surgeon who attended him in his last moments.” In fact, many scholars to this day also believe that Newton died a virgin.
25. Newton Was Knighted
In 1705, Newton was knighted by Queen Anne for his service as a politician and what he did for the Mint in 1705 which earned him the title “Sir.” By that time, he had become wealthy after inheriting his mother’s property following her death in 1679 and also had published two major works, 1687’s “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” which is commonly called the “Principia” and 1704’s “Opticks.” After the renowned scientist had died at age 84 on March 20, 1727, he was buried in Westminster Abbey, the resting place of English monarchs as well as such notable non-royals as Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and explorer David Livingstone.