Isaac Newton Book Summary - Isaac Newton Book explained in key points
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Isaac Newton summary

James Gleick

Learn the truth behind the legend

4.5 (104 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

'Isaac Newton' by James Gleick is a biography of one of the most influential scientists in history. It explores Newton's discoveries in math, physics, and astronomy and the impact they had on society and future scientific advancements.

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    Isaac Newton
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    Isaac Newton was born into chaos, and his curiosity was apparent from the first.

    Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day, 1642, in a modest English farmstead in Woolsthorpe, in the county of Lincolnshire. Newton's father, a man who’d never learned to read or write, died before he was born.

    England in the 1640s was in a state of chaos. The English Civil War was in full swing, with the Royalists, who supported the king, on the one side and the Parliamentarians, who challenged the king’s despotic tendencies and his belief in the divine right of monarchs, on the other.

    The world was still riddled with belief in alchemy, magic, the occult and mysticism. When people spoke of “gravity,” they were likely referring to a person’s bearing, not a force of nature. In short, it was a world ignorant of the most basic laws of science – information that we now take for granted.

    Few imagined that a child born to this world would go on to alter it inexorably through mathematics and empirical observation.

    But Newton would do just that, and he managed it in large part because of his curious mind, which was apparent from his earliest years.

    As a child, Newton was especially interested in the movements of the sun. By using a string, he measured how the sun traverses across the sky and even sketched three-dimensional sundials and other geometric figures. He noted too that the moon’s movements were similar to those of the sun.

    He went to school in nearby Grantham. At the King’s School, he grappled with the basics of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and theology. In arithmetic class, he learned how to measure areas and shapes, and methods for surveying land. Soon enough, he put this knowledge to use by creating lanterns, watermills and windmills at home.

    But then, like all teenagers, Newton was struck with a little angst. He was plagued by deep existential despair: he was unsure what he should make of his life. His family and community thought that he would stay in the country, doing little more than tending sheep on his family’s farm. But Newton knew his calling was elsewhere.

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    What is Isaac Newton about?

    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.

    Isaac Newton Review

    Isaac Newton (2003) by James Gleick is a fascinating exploration of the life and scientific achievements of one of the most influential scientists in history. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides insightful explanations of Newton's groundbreaking theories, such as the laws of motion and gravity, allowing readers to grasp the magnitude of his contributions.
    • Gleick skillfully weaves together historical context, personal anecdotes, and scientific discoveries, creating a rich and engaging account of Newton's life and work.
    • The book also delves into Newton's complex personality, shedding light on his struggles, controversies, and the lasting impact of his scientific legacy.

    Who should read Isaac Newton?

    • Students of history
    • People interested in learning how the modern world was shaped
    • Scientists curious about the mythology behind their interests

    About the Author

    James Gleick has written to great acclaim on the history of science and the impact of technology. His writing has garnered him the PEN/EO Wilson Literary Science Writing Award and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. His books have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. His previous books include The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (2012) and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992).

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    Isaac Newton FAQs 

    What is the main message of Isaac Newton?

    The main message of Isaac Newton explores the life and achievements of the remarkable scientist.

    How long does it take to read Isaac Newton?

    The reading time for Isaac Newton varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Isaac Newton a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Isaac Newton is a must-read for those interested in science and history. It provides fascinating insights into the life of a genius.

    Who is the author of Isaac Newton?

    The author of Isaac Newton is James Gleick.

    What to read after Isaac Newton?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Isaac Newton, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Genius by James Gleick
    • The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner
    • Chaos by James Gleick
    • Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
    • Time Travel by James Gleick
    • American Prometheus by Kai Bird & Martin J Sherwin
    • How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci
    • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
    • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
    • How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman