Sir Isaac Newton PRS was a prominent figure in the 17th century’s scientific revolution. A natural genius, Newton went on to become one of the most prolific physicists and mathematicians, whose work laid the foundations of many prominent theories in Physics today. Heck, even Albert Einstein himself was a huge fan! Want to know more? Keep on reading to learn gravitational facts about Sir Isaac Newton.
Fact 1: Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642, according to the ‘Old Style’ calendar (O.S.), and January 4th, 1643 according to the ‘New Style’ calendar (N.S.).
Fact 2: He was an English physicist and mathematician, who was an important figure in the Scientific Revolution during the 17th century. His work in classical mechanics, in particular, paved the way for many scientists who came after his time.
Fact 3: He laid the foundation for modern physical optics. In optics, his discovery of the composition of white light integrated the phenomena of colors into the science of light and laid the foundation for modern physical optics. In mechanics, his three laws of motion, the basic principles of modern physics, resulted in the formulation of the law of universal gravitation.
Fact 4: Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope. He developed a theory of color based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colors of the visible spectrum. His work on light was collected in his highly influential book “Opticks” which was published in 1704.
Fact 5: English astronomer Edmund Halley paid Newton a visit in 1684. Halley urged Newton to organize his notes on his equations about the elliptical paths of celestial bodies. The result was the 1687 publication of “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”, which established the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravity.
Fact 6: Sir Isaac became a ‘Sir’ after being Knighted by Queen Ann of England in 1705, after the publication of ‘Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica’ – one of his greatest publications!
Fact 7: Newton immersed himself in Aristotle’s work.
Fact 8: Sometime during his undergraduate career, Newton discovered the works of the French natural philosopher René Descartes and the other mechanical philosophers, who, in contrast to Aristotle, viewed physical reality as composed entirely of particles of matter in motion and that all the phenomena of nature results from their mechanical interaction.
Fact 9: Isaac Newton attended Trinity College Cambridge in 1661, and studied Law. He successfully completed the course and left the college with a Bachelor’s degree in 1665.
Fact 10: At Trinity College, he became a mathematics professor and a fellow of the Royal Society. He eventually was elected to represent Cambridge University as a member of parliament.
Fact 11: He became the warden of the Royal Mint in London in 1696.
Fact 12: Newton tried his best to get rid of corruption, as well as to reform England’s currency. He was later elected President of the Royal Society in 1703 and was knighted by Queen Anne in 1705.
Fact 13: He’s best known for his discovery of gravity, which is documented further in his publication ‘Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica’. Gravity is literally something we on Earth cannot do without – for one we’d all be floating about, which sounds fun enough! But probably wouldn’t be, and two, without gravity there would be all sorts of crazy things happening above us in the galaxy!
Fact 14: Newton outlined his theory on gravity in his book “Principia” and explained the movements of the planets and the Sun. This theory is known today as Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.
Fact 15: In 1816, a tooth that is said to have belonged to Newton was sold for $3,633.
Fact 16: The aristocrat who bought Newton’s tooth had it set in a ring in London. In 2002, The Guinness World Records classified it as the most valuable tooth, which valued approximately $35,700 in 2001.
Fact 17: Albert Einstein apparently had a picture of Isaac Newton in his study. This would be pretty epic as you’d have two of the world’s leading physicists sitting next to each other! Einstein, of course, is credited for his theory of relativity, and he came up with the equation ‘E=MC2’.
Fact 18: The alleged photo of Newton, hung alongside Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell, in Einstein’s home. Faraday, worked tirelessly on electromagnetism and electrochemistry, while Maxwell worked on electromagnetic radiation.
Fact 19: Newton’s monument can be seen in Westminster Abbey.
Fact 20: The monument, that was to honor Newton and his contribution to science, was created by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack, but was based on designs by the architect William Kent. The monument is made from white and grey marble and shows children interacting with some of the instruments that are significant to Newton, for example, one child is holding a telescope.
Fact 21: The apple didn’t actually fall on Newton’s head. The real story goes more like this apparently, Newton was merely looking out the window when he happened to see the fruit drop from the tree. Whatever really happened, Newton realized that some force must be acting on falling objects like the apple, otherwise, it would not move.
Fact 22: Newton was a quiet, shy child, who didn’t often play with other children when he was young. From a young age, and as he grew up, he spent more and more time alone, just building miniatures, and experimenting with his different inventions. Some say he exhibited signs of Bipolar Disorder most of his life, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Fact 23: Newton’s biography is a catalogue of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, an illness he suffered from most of his life. He was also very quiet and reserved, in fact, he only spoke once during his year of being a member of the parliament, and that was to tell someone to close a window.
Fact 24: His mother, Hannah Ayscough left Newton when he was just 3 years old, but she did return some years later.
Fact 25: When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, leaving Newton in the care of his maternal grandmother.
Fact 26: Newton’s shy and quiet nature made him a target at school for bullying. But this did not deter Newton from giving his whole attention to his schoolwork.
Fact 27: On March 20, 1727 (O. S.), Newton died in his sleep while in London.
Fact 28: Isaac Newton was 84 years old when he died.
Fact 29: Voltaire may have attended Sir Isaac Newton’s funeral. Voltaire, also known as François-Marie Arouet, was a famous writer from the period. He would often criticize Christianity, but his humorous wit won over many people at this time.
Fact 30: Newton died a bachelor, so much of his estate went to his relatives. His papers went to John Conduitt and Catherine Barton allegedly. Barton, was a distant niece to Newton, through her Mother, Hannah Smith.
Fact 31: Traces of mercury were found in Newton’s hair when they examined his body when he died. This was likely to be a direct result of him working with the chemical when he was on one of his alchemical pursuits.
Fact 32: He remained a virgin bachelor until his death. Newton never married and, though it’s impossible to verify, is widely believed never to have had sex. Some historians suggest that since Cambridge was a Catholic University, administration usually suggested that students, fellows, and professors possess a celibate life.
Fact 33: He might have suffered from Asperger Syndrome. Thanks to researchers at Cambridge University, we have a pretty good idea that Isaac Newton had Asperger’s Syndrome or something else on the spectrum. The researchers, who also argue that Albert Einstein was autistic, mention in their article that Newton isolated himself as much as possible and was notoriously awkward when it came to typical daily conversation, which could be characteristics of the syndrome.
Fact 34: He was born in Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire, England. The building is now owned by the National Trust and you can visit there. You’ll also be able to see the famous Apple Tree that gave rise to Newton’s ideas on gravity.
Fact 35: He was born when there were 2 different calendars in use! The 2 different calendars in use were the ‘Old Style’ and ‘New Style’. The ‘Old Style’ calendar was used in Protestant/Orthodox regions of the world, while the ‘New Style’ was used in Roman Catholic Europe. The largest difference between the 2 calendars is the fact that the ‘New Style’ calendar is 10 days ahead of the ‘Old Style’ calendar.
Fact 36: By the time Newton died, there was an 11-day discrepancy between the 2 calendars that were in use at the time: ‘Old Style’ and ‘New Style’. For example, when he died on March 20th, 1726 in ‘Old Style’ time, it was actually March 31st, 1727, if you went by the ‘New Style’. These calendars also affect the year.
Fact 37: Mercury poisoning could explain Newton’s eccentricity in late life. If you’re exposed to Mercury for too long you could experience some issues with your digestive system, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, and immune system – so its best to avoid Mercury!
Fact 38: Galileo, or Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaulti de Galilei, died in 1642, which happens to be the year Newton was born in. Interestingly, Galileo was credited with being a ‘Father of Modern Physics’, much like the credit Newton was given by his peers!
Fact 39: He could’ve turned out to be a farmer! After returning home from school at the age of 17 he was supposed to follow in the footsteps of his family and run the farm that he was born on. Sadly, he didn’t make a good enough farmer and he returned to do what he was good at.
Fact 40: Sir Isaac never met his Father. His Father died roughly 3 months before he was born.
Fact 41: Although his mother had married a wealthy clergyman, Newton still had to fund himself throughout his time at college. Newton would clean the wealthier students’ dorms and he was also a waiter.
Fact 42: Isaac studied Hebrew and theologians as well. In doing so, he became a little detached from the Church of England and began to question the teachings of Christianity.
Fact 43: In 1664, Newton was elected as a scholar of Cambridge and won financial support for himself for the remaining time he had left in college, but the college closed because of the plague.
Fact 44: Interestingly, as a Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge it was a requirement that you fell in line with the practices of the Church. Newton didn’t actually fall in line with this, because he didn’t accept the Christian beliefs, you’d think this would’ve caused a massive stir, but no, the Church went along with it and he remained a Fellow.
Fact 45: Thanks to the plague travelling across Europe, and making its way to England, Newton was able to sit down for a couple of years, away from college, to really study the biggest issues facing physics and mathematics. This is when he first started thinking seriously about gravity and what it really meant for the world.
Fact 46: Newton had a massive fear of plagiarism, so he always felt compelled to defend his work.
Fact 47: Although he’s one of science’s biggest names, Newton feared criticism, which often led him to delay his work from being published.