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Bedtime Biography: Isaac Newton

Learn the truth behind the legend

By James Gleick
  • Read in 7 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 5 key ideas
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Bedtime Biography: Isaac Newton by James Gleick

Narrated by Cathleen McCarron

Music by Federico Coderoni  

Isaac Newton (2003) takes readers on an insightful tour of the life and mind of one of history’s greatest thinkers. It’s more than a plain account of Newton’s life and accomplishments. Instead, we get a revealing glimpse of his habits, obsessions and eccentricities. It all makes for a revealing and rewarding biography.

Key idea 1 of 5


Bedtime Biographies are best when listened to.  Check out the audio version to get the full experience!

A man sits under an apple tree. For hours he’s been contemplating a tricky problem, and he just can’t get his head around it. So he sits there under the tree and thinks. Suddenly, it hits him – not the answer to his problem, but an apple. An apple falls from the tree and hits the man on top of the head. This surely hurt – but it also knocked an idea into his brain. 

Within an instant, the solution to the problem appears! He’s solved it! He jumps up to write down his idea and tell the world of his discovery.

You’ve probably guessed by now that the man in question is Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists of all time. If there’s one thing we all know about the man it’s that a fallen apple pushed him to discover gravity.

Well, there is so much more to Isaac Newton and his life than this single, almost certainly made-up story. In the next 30 minutes or so, let’s explore his life and work together. 

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