Isaac Newton

By: Michael Kirkpatrick

Isaac Newton was once quoted as saying, “Plato is my friend — Aristotle is my friend — but my greatest friend is truth.” And so his life was spent in the pursuit of this friend.

Newton was born December 25, 1642 in a manor house in Woolthorpe. His father was a farmer and died three months before his birth. When Newton was three his mother remarried a wealthy clergyman, who soon died in 1653. During the 1640s the family moved to England but it wasn’t the best time from 1642 to 1646 because religious and political differences soon led to a civil war. The Newtons were not religious extremists, and Isaac remained with the Church of England for the rest of his life.

At age twelve he moved to a larger school, Grantham Grammar School. He showed a fascination for gadgets and odd contraptions at a young age. Someone arranged for Newton to enroll at the Trinity College in 1661. His career as a student lasted until 1665, when he took the degree as a Bachelor of Arts. Shortly after, he was elected a Minor Fellow of the College. In 1669 he was chosen to replace Isaac Barrow as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematician, a position he held for thirty-four years.

Newton’s major accomplishments are as follows. In January 1672 he was elected to the Royal Society. In February of 1672 Newton presented his first paper to the Royal Society detailing his work on the nature of light and advancing his theory that white light was a composite of all the colors of the spectrum. He was elected one of the two members of Parliament for Cambridge University in 1689. In 1701 he was again elected to be a member of Parliament. But the most impressive accomplishment of Isaac Newton was his Knighting. Newton was knighted by Queen Anne on 16 April 1705. Newton is revered today as one of the most influential scientists ever to live.


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