If you ever ask a person, be it a student or a professional or a jaded man in his 50s, to come up with the name of the most famous scientists in history, Sir Isaac Newton would be one of the first few names they would come up with. Newton was a scientist before scientists were even known by that word(they were known as “natural philosophers”). His work on theories of gravity, calculus, optics, etc was the foundation of all the scientific discoveries made after him and is the backbone of all the science we learn today. Today we celebrate Newton’s birth anniversary by looking back at some of the most unknown facts of his long and illustrious life.
Newton Enjoys Multiple Birthdays
Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas of 1642, in England’s Lincolnshire. Back in 1642 though, his country was still using the Julian Calendar. When the Gregorian Calendar(the one which we all use) came into an effect in England in 1752, there was an 11-day shift in the dates itself and his birthday was shifted to 4th of January 1643.
He too was a product of an unhappy Childhood
In 1646, when Newton was at an impressionable age of three years old, his mother went on to marry a wealthy clergyman. This clergyman did not want a stepson and hence, Newton’s mother decided to live with her new husband and lead a new life in a different village, while leaving her young son behind in the guidance of his grandparents.
This experience scarred the future celebrated scientist and left issues with abandonment and trust on his mental health. Consequently, Newton remained a solitary individual all throughout his life who was infamous for his untrusting nature. It is known that even as an adult, Newton always chose to make his work his priority and took no interest in hobbies or personal relationships.
Newton Turned Pandemic into Opportunity
The year 1665 is written in the darkest ink on the pages of world history. It was the year when the Bubonic plague had halted the entirety of Europe, and the plans of its residents. In just the first seven months of the outbreak, also known as the Black plague, over 1,00,000 citizens of London had died. The harrowing incident forced Cambridge University to close its door, sending Newton to his home to Woolsthrope Manor.
Back at Woolsthrope Manor, Newton began working on some of the most important theories that would later put him on the Mount Rushmore of the greatest scientists the world ever saw. Some of the theories that Newton explored here were: ideas of planetary motion, understanding of optics through light and color. It was at this point in Newton’s life when he actually began working on the idea of gravity by observing an apple falling from a tree.
He Was a Fierce Competitor
It is widely known that Newton also was a fierce competitor and argued with German mathematician Leibniz over who discovered calculus first. Leibniz was of the claim that it was Newton who stole his ideas whereas Newton said it was the other way around and accused Leibniz of plagiarism. In 1712, Leibniz appealed to the Royal Society in London to look into the matters. Unfortunately for Leibniz, Newton was the President of the society since 1703 and hence it came to no one’s surprise that the Royal Society favored Newton.
Isaac Newton and the Philosopher’s Stone
We all know the scientific endeavors for which Isaac Newton is known for, and for the right reasons. But not many know that Newton spent the last decades of his life in the pursuit of another interest: alchemy. Newton’s ultimate goal was to discover the philosopher’s stone, a compound that can turn ordinary metals into gold.
In his last few years, Newton went a bit, eccentric, for the lack of a better word. His work included taste-tests of most of the substances that he worked with which included mercury and lead. The tests of his hair post his death actually found a substantial amount of mercury in them.
Newton Enjoyed The Political Life
Gravity’s father Newton was also a Member of Parliament from 1689-1690 where he represented Cambridge University. Although Newton’s contribution to the Parliament was limited, during his time Bill of Rights was enacted limiting the power of the monarchy.
Additionally, Newton was also active in the economic space of his country. In 1696, Newton was appointed as the Warden of the Royal Mint and after three years he went on to become the Master of Mint where he actually changed the English Pound from Sterling to Gold.
From Isaac Newton To Sir Isaac Newton
On April 16, 1705, Queen Anne surprised the audience at the Cambridge University by knighting Isaac Newton who was the ex-Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the Cambridge University. Newton remained a famous and wealthy person at the time of his death in 1727. After his death, the entire country was swept in mourning and he was given a farewell similar to that of royalty. Newton was buried in Westminster Abbey, a resting place known for being the burial ground of monarchs as well as the brightest minds of his country like Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, etc.
We wish this genius a very happy birthday