Isaac Newton

Biography of Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton Biography

Isaac Newton was an English physicist, theologian, inventor, philosopher, mathematician and alchemist known by the description of the universal gravitational law and the establishment of classical mechanics by the physical laws that bear his name (Newton’s Laws). Also, there are other contributions to the studies of optics, light, and mathematical calculation, as well as to demonstrate that the laws governing the movement of the earth are the same as the laws that govern the movement of celestial bodies.

Isaac was born in the town of Woolsthorpe, England on January 4, 1643, which at that time corresponded to December 25, 1642, since the calendar used at that time was the Julian. It was thought that he would not live long because he was a premature birth and he was on death alert for at least a week. He did not get to meet his father, Isaac Newton, who died in October 1642, so his mother Hannah Ayscough baptized him with the name his father.

When Isaac began his primary studies he found that the mathematics texts were written in Latin which allowed him to investigate more thoroughly and have better contact with scientists in Europe. The school where he studied was in Grantham, so he shared a residence with other children with whom he did not have a good relationship, coming to think that children of his age felt manipulated thanks to his mental agility which was extremely superior.

Newton stood out for his rare inventions and skills for mechanical work, filling his bedroom with tools to make furniture for dolls, models and all kinds of wooden objects. Among other constructions that Isaac carried out are: A four-wheeled cart driven by a crank, a folding paper lantern which he used to investigate in dark places of the school, besides he studied the properties of the kites calculating their adequate measures and the exact points to hold their strings. Newton spoke to his schoolmates about all these inventions and gave them flashlights in order to win their friendship, but they only tried to get away from him because he showed them much superiority.

Newton would enter the University of Cambridge in which he did not attend classes regularly because he spent most of his time studying. However, in one of the few classes he attended, he would meet Isaac Barrow who was his Math teacher and who managed to motivate him to start studying Galileo Galilei, Fermat, and Huygens enriching their math skills, to the point of surpassing their teacher.

In 1693, he had a strong psychic crisis that generated absolute depression and some attacks of paranoia because he did not eat or sleep. Some historians think that the cause of this crisis was to break all kinds of relationship with his disciple Nicolás Fatio. However, sometime later they would realize that these attacks were caused by contamination of mercury in his body since he was carrying out his alchemy experiments with this chemical element. Alchemy was one of his research areas along with religion, subjects in which he exceeded in level his scientific writings.



At the end of 1664, he carried out arduous experiments on mathematical problems where he used John Wallis’ binomial theorem as a basis to later develop his method called Fluxion calculus. A year later, an epidemic of bubonic plague arrived in the city where he lived, so he returned to the family farm he had, and also postponing his studies which led him to make plenty discoveries such as the formalization of the method of fluxions, the generalization of the binomial theorem, the law of the inverse of the square of distance in gravitation and the development of the bases of classical mechanics. All these discoveries would remain in secret because of the fear that those ideas were stolen and that they were criticized by the experts. In 1667, he would resume his university studies at Cambridge and from that year until 1669 he focused on research on optics.

Newton also made contributions to the calculation, and he undertook it from the analytical geometry, proposing a geometric and analytical approach to the mathematical derivatives, applied to curves that were defined from different equations, among them the square and the theory of the tangents. These studies made Newton able to find out that the tangent method could also be used to calculate instantaneous velocities of a known distance.

Between 1670 and 1672, Isaac Newton began to perform intense work on problems that had to do with light and optics where he demonstrated that the white light was formed by a band of colors that could be separated by a prism and he concluded that all types of refracting telescope underwent a refraction consisting of the dispersion of light in various colors at the time it passes through a lens, which is known as chromatic aberration. As a solution to this problem, he invented a reflector telescope which he also called a Newtonian telescope. His consecutive experiments on light led him to stipulate the “Theory of light nature” which states that light is formed by corpuscles and propagates in a straight line and not by waves. This theory was exposed in 1704 when Newton wrote his most outstanding production on optics called Opticks in which he also described events such as refraction, reflection, and scattering of light.



With this law, Isaac Newton was able to explain the most relevant physical phenomena of the entire universe, since it states the following:

  • F: It is the gravitational force vector
  • G: It is the universal gravitation constant discovered and measured by Henry Cavendish, its value is 6.67 × 10 ^ -11 N · m2 / kg2.
  • m1 and m2: They are the masses of two objects that interact with each other.
  • r: It is the distance that separates the two objects.


The universal gravitation is something beyond a force directed at the sun since it is also a force that the planets make on the sun and all elements that make up the universe. Based on this, Newton realized that the movement of the celestial bodies was not regulated and affirm: “The planets neither move exactly in ellipses nor turn twice according to the same orbit.”

Another of Newton’s great contributions to the sciences were the laws of dynamics which are also known as Newton’s laws and they explain the movement, causes, and effects of objects or bodies. Newton succeeded in raising his three laws as follows:

  • Law of inertia (First Law of Newton): “Everybody will remain in their state of rest or uniform and rectilinear movement unless it is forced by external forces to change its state”. Newton implies in this law that an object or body on which external forces do not act will always be at rest or moving at a constant speed.
  • Law of interaction and force (Newton’s Second Law): “The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force acting on it and inversely proportional to its mass.” This law explains that when a body or object prints a force on another, the necessary conditions are given to change its state of rest or movement. Mathematically this second law is posed as follows: F = m. a. “F” is the force measured in newtons that must be applied to an object, “m” is the mass of the object and is the acceleration that is caused by force.
  •  Law of action and reaction (Newton’s third law): “With all action occurs always an equal and opposite reaction; the mutual actions of two bodies are always the same and directed in opposite directions.” This law explains that each time an object exerts a force on another, the second exerts a force of the same magnitude and direction but in the opposite direction to the first object.

Throughout his investigative career, Newton was also a professor at the University of Cambridge, and in 1687 when the defense of the rights of the university where he was formed began, as the unpopular King James II attempted to transform the university’s facilities into a Catholic institution. Thanks to this situation, Newton was appointed a member of parliament in the year 1689.

After 30 years teaching, Isaac Newton decided to retire in 1696 to take a position as director of currency in which he was a great fighter against the counterfeiters whom he punished with the death penalty by sending them to the gallows. He also proposed the use of gold as the monetary standard in his country.



He wrote many words about alchemy, but they were slow to be known since at that time alchemy was illegal. He signed his works as an alchemist in the name of Jehovah Sanctus Unus, which referred to an anti-Trinitarian motto that means the only holy Lord.

In 1680, his most important and extensive writing on alchemy “Index Chemicus” which stood out for its strict organization and which would end at the end of that century. In the following years, he continued his studies and alchemical research and published writings such as Ripley expounded, Praxis and Tabula Smaragdina.

In terms of theology, Isaac Newton was an Arianist and believed in one God since he was the son of Puritan parents so that he dedicated the most time of his days to study the Bible. However, Newton was not a believer in the Trinity, and he blamed the Catholic Church for fraud in the sacred scriptures.

During the last years of his life, Newton suffered renal insufficiencies caused by nephritic colic and which caused his death on March 31, 172. His body was buried in the Abbey of Westminster.

Isaac Newton was always respected because all the positions he worked, and all the scientific work done in each of them that always contributed to the improvement of each of the fields where he moved.


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