Isaac Newton (1642–1727)

  • Calvin C. Clawson


The lives of two men spanned the time from medieval superstition to the birth of modern science: Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. The stage was set for these two remarkable men by Nicholas Copernicus (1473–1543), a Polish astronomer and mathematician (Figure 113). Copernicus overturned the well-entrenched astronomical system of Ptolemy that maintained Earth was at the center of the universe, with the Sun, planets, and stars revolving around Earth. In his 1543 publication, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Copernicus said the Sun was at the center, that Earth rotated on its axis, and claimed Earth and other heavenly bodies revolve around the Sun, following circular paths. The only problem: almost no one listened to Copernicus.


Royal Society Trinity College Universal Gravitation Heavenly Body Original Principium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 2.
    Newton’s date of birth was December 25, 1642, according to the Julian calendar then in use. Today, in the Gregorian calendar, it would be January 4, 1643.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Jane Muir, Of Men and Numbers (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1961), p. 105.MATHGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 53.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Ibid., p. 55.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Muir, Of Men and Numbers, p. 106.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 60.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Ibid., p. 78.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Ibid., p. 181.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Ibid., p. 211.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    George F. Simmons, Calculus Gems (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992), p. 134.MATHGoogle Scholar
  11. 12.
    Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 290.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Ibid., p. 292.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    This anagram works if we map the j from Jeova onto an i in Isaacus, and the v in Jeova onto a u.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Newton’s decoded anagram yields a statement in Latin. The English translation is, “given an equation involving any number of fluent quantities to find the fluxions, and visa versa.” Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 265.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 365.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Ibid., p. 595.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Carl B. Boyer, A History of Mathematics (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1991), p. 400.MATHGoogle Scholar
  18. 19.
    Simmons, Calculus Gems, p. 148.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Ibid., p. 136.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Westfall, Never at Rest, p. 863.Google Scholar

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© Calvin C. Clawson 1999

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  • Calvin C. Clawson

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