Isaac Newton (1643-1727), an English physicist and mathematician, is considered one of the foremost scientists of all time. His works and discoveries laid the foundation for many future research works.
In this post, we tell you all you need to know about his life, education, family, discoveries, contributions, inventions, and accomplishments. We also give you a few Isaac Newton facts for kids to help you ignite their young minds.
Read on and introduce your children to one of the most intelligent people, or perhaps the most intelligent person, in human history.
Isaac Newton Biography
Isaac Newton was born into a puritan family in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England, on January 4, 1643 (December 25, 1642, according to the old Julian calendar).
He was the only son of Isaac and Hannah Ayscough Newton. Isaac’s father died three months before his birth. Three years after his father’s death, his mother married the 63-year-old Barnabas Smith and moved with him, leaving Isaac under the care of his maternal grandparents.
Isaac Newton as a child
Isaac Newton’s mother and grandmother, who were literate, taught him how to read and write. In 1653, after Smith died, Hannah returned to Woolsthorpe with her three other children. Newton was enrolled in The King’s School Grantham, a free grammar school in Lincolnshire, where he was introduced to the fascinating world of chemistry.
When Isaac was 12 years old, he was pulled out of school by his mother to become a farmer. He failed dismally and found farming boring.
Later on, Hannah’s brother, the headmaster of the Grantham school, persuaded his mother to let Isaac pursue studies. Newton continued with his studies at Grantham, and in 1661, he joined Trinity College, where he was older than most of his classmates.
College and career
- In 1665, after completing his BA from Trinity College, he returned home because of the temporary closure of the university due to The Great Plaque.
- The years 1665 and 1666 were the most productive years of his life. He laid the groundwork for his famous theories in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy, such as gravitation, calculus, optics, and laws of motion.
- He returned to Cambridge in 1667, where he was elected as a Fellow of Trinity and later became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669.
- Newton was selected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1672.
- He published “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), one of his primary research works that laid the foundations for classical mechanics in 1687. It is a work consisting of three books, which Newton prepared during The Great Plague.
- In 1689, he was elected to the Parliament, where he served for one year.
- He was appointed as Warden of the Mint in 1696 and as the Master of the Mint in 1700.
Sir Isaac Newton family
Isaac Newton was born to Isaac Newton Sr. and Hannah Ayscough. He did not have any siblings of his own, but had three half-siblings from his mother’s second marriage — two half-sisters Hannah Smith Pilkington and Mary Smith, and a half-brother Benjamin Smith.
Isaac Newton was not married and did not have any children. Towards the end of his life, Newton lived at Cranbury Park, near Winchester, England, with his niece, Catherine (Barton) Conduitt, and her husband, John Conduitt.
How Newton Became A Scientist
- The works of outstanding thinkers and scientists such as Aristotle, Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Rene Descartes, Hobbes, Boyle, and Galileo were said to have inspired Newton.
- Legend has it that an apple falling from a tree inspired Newton to discover the law of gravity.
- His laws of gravitation and motion are considered the basis of modern physics.
- His reflecting telescope was a significant breakthrough in the field of optics.
- He also discovered calculus as an innovative way of solving mathematical problems.
Interesting Facts About Isaac Newton For Kids
Here are a few interesting facts about Isaac Newton you might not have known.
- Considered one of the most influential scientists in history, Newton is best known for his theory about the law of gravity.
- Apart from developing and working on various ideas on celestial machines, light, and calculus, he is also known for his three laws of motion.
- Newton wrote books in Latin as, during his time, it was the International language of science.
- He played a significant role in developing the principles of modern physics and laws of motion.
- Newton was not very social as a person.
- When he was a professor at Cambridge, his lectures were poorly attended. Newton was more interested in his research works than teaching.
- He was a student of alchemy and Biblical history.
- Until his death in 1727, He served as the president of the Royal Society of London and master of England’s Royal Mint.
- In 1705, he was Knighted by Queen Anne. Hence, he came to be known as Sir Isaac Newton.
- Isaac Newton’s scientific discoveries include:
b. Three laws of motion
c. The oblate spheroidal shape of the Earth
d. Newton’s method
f. Reflecting telescope
- He was the first person to construct a reflecting telescope.
- Newton was known to have suffered nervous breakdowns in 1678 and 1693.
- In the later years of his life, he became more interested in politics than research.
- Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, also called Principia, is recognized as the greatest scientific book ever written.
Sir Isaac Newton: Famous Quotes
- “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
- “Truth is the offspring of silence and meditation. I keep the subject constantly before me and wait ’til the first dawning opens slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light.”
- “A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true.”
- “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.”
- “Live your life as an Exclamation rather than an Explanation.”
- “What we know is a drop; what we don’t know is an ocean.”
- “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.”
- “No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”
- “What goes up must come down.”
- “Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
- “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.”
- “Genius is patience.”
- “To myself, I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”
- “If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent.”
- “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”
- “If others would think as hard as I did, then they would get similar results.
Isaac Newton Books For Kids
Here is a list of books about Newton for children to read.
- Newtonian Physics for Babies (Baby University) by Chris Ferrie
- Who Was Isaac Newton? By Janet B. Pascal
- Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion (graphic novel) by Andrea Gianopolous
- Isaac Newton (Giants of Science) by Kathleen Krull
- Newton’s Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky
- Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Kerrie Logan Hollihan
Newton passed away in his sleep at the age of 84 on March 20, 1727, and he was buried in Westminster Abbey, London. After his death, the analysis of his body and hair samples indicated the presence of mercury, which was probably due to his experiments. Hence, the cause of death is primarily mercury poisoning.
As one of the most remarkable and influential scientists and mathematicians, Newton made significant contributions in various fields of science and changed the way people perceived the universe. His work is greatly valued and continues to inspire scientists to date.