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38 Interesting Facts about Isaac Newton You Might Not Know

Isaac Newton shaped new ways of living by discovering gravity and finding different methods to observe the universe. Sir Isaac Newton was a great physicist, mathematician, and highly influential astronomer.

Additionally, he is widely recognized as a great philosopher and alchemist. He was the first person to invent calculus and discover the laws of gravity, also known as Newton’s Laws of Gravity.

You may recognize him in modern illustrations with an apple in hand or an apple tree nearby. This is because this is the fruit that he saw falling from a tree that gave him his “aha” moment about the laws of gravity, but more on this later.

Newton comes from humble beginnings, and his accomplishments are even more astonishing when you learn about his unhappy and tumultuous childhood. You’ll find all these facts about his early life, career, personality, and more below.

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38 Interesting Facts about Isaac Newton

Let’s find out a little bit more about the scientific mind that revolutionized the way people saw and thought about the world. Here are 38 fascinating facts about Isaac Newton you might not know.

1. He was only 26 years old when he became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University.

2. Newton actually showed very little interest in his students and teaching, resulting in poorly attended lectures. Historians even state that most students could not understand his lectures at all. He preferred to center his time around research which took up most of his attention.

3. In his personal life, he was known to be quite jealous, potentially mean, and to have quite an ego.

4. Newton was very interested in the pseudoscience of alchemy and even tried to turn lead into gold, but failed.

5. He once went temporarily blind after looking at the sun for a long time in the mirror.

6. Newton was born prematurely on January 4, 1643, and had a very low chance of survival.

7. He was so small when he was born that his mother, Hannah Ayscough, claims that he could fit into a quart-size mug.

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8. His father, an illiterate farmer, died in October 1642, before his birth.

9. To honor his father, Isaac’s mother gave him the same name, so he was essentially Isaac Newton Jnr.

10. Newton’s mother left him when he was only three years old. She remarried a wealthy clergyman and left Newton to be raised by his maternal grandmother.

11. Hannah Ayscough’s new husband, Reverend Barnabas Smith did not have a good relationship with his stepson. So much so that Isaac threatened to burn down his house while he and Newton’s mother were still inside.

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12. Newton was a very religious man and he recorded all of his thoughts and confessions (sins) in a personal journal.

13. He also studied the Bible intensely in search of hidden messages and secrets about how the world works.

14. He estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060.

15. His mother wanted him to become a farmer. She even made him quit school at around 15, when she became widowed again, to become a farmer at their home, Woolsthorpe Manor.

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16. However, Isaac failed his farming tests many times and was not interested in this profession.

17. Newton was bullied at school, this caused him to concentrate on his schoolwork which worked out well for him later in his career.

18. He was 23 when he first discovered the law of gravity

19. Isaac was standing near an apple tree observing an apple falling on the ground when he first noticed gravity. There are some variations to this story, with some believing the apple fell directly on his head, however, the most commonly agreed upon theory is that it fell from a tree he was looking at.

20. The philosopher has the bubonic plague of 1655 to thank for his discovery of the falling apple and gravity. Cambridge University was closed for two years because of the plague, he, therefore, returned home to Woolsthorpe Manor where he had plenty of spare time to let his mind wander.

21. He once put a needle in his own eye, while performing experiments on optics.

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22. One of Newton’s teeth sold for $3,600 (£2,250) at an auction in 1816, making it the most valuable tooth in the world.

23. Newton was a smart man but a bad investor. He lost over £20,000 when he invested in the South Sea Company. That’s estimated to be the equivalent of £22,50000 today. He apparently banned everyone from mentioning the name “South Sea Company” around him after the unfortunate event.

24. Isaac Newton also had many roles of leadership. In 1696, he cared for royal money as a warden of the Royal Mint. Meaning he was responsible for the production of England’s currency.

25. The man was very bad-tempered and often argued with the work of other scientists. He also did not like criticism and made enemies with those that offered him even constructive feedback.

26. Isaac suffered more than one nervous breakdown. These are said to have happened when he believed people were conspiring against him.

27. Albert Einstein was inspired by the work of Isaac Newton and he even challenged some aspects of Newton’s theories through his own work and findings.

28. Many believe that being abandoned by his mother at such a young age scarred Newton. They attribute his solitary and untrusting nature to this abandonment.

29. He loved maths from the beginning even though his schoolwork in his early schooling career did not imply that he would excel in later years.

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30. In 1664, Newton was granted a four-year scholarship to Cambridge. During these college years, he was referred to as a sizar which meant that he received financial assistance for doing menial tasks. These included waiting tables and cleaning the rooms of rich students to make extra money.

31. Taking over from his mentor, Isaac Barrow, Newton was named the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge in 1669. Later masterminds who also held this position are Stephen Hawking and Charles Babbage (father of computing).

32. Newton never married and this could be for a variety of reasons. Some historians believe that the Catholic system of Cambridge suggested that students and professors should lead a celibate life. Others believe that he simply did not have time for a personal life, or he did not want to be distracted.

33. From 1689 to 1690, he became a member of the Parliament of England, representing Cambridge University. However, it’s widely known that his contributions were limited and he reportedly only spoke once when he asked an usher to close a window because it was cold.

34. Newton was knighted in 1705 by Queen Anne. By this stage, he had inherited his mother’s property, following her death in 1679. He had also published two major works, making him very wealthy.

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35. From extensive research of his written journal and biography, scientists suggest that Newton may have had Asperger’s Syndrome. He didn’t have a social life, did not speak often, had anger problems, and often forgot to eat because he was too occupied with work. These are just some of the symptoms scientists highlighted.

36. Isaac was a very passionate discoverer, he once said: “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”

37. One of his most well-known books, The Principia Mathematica was published in 1687 by Newton himself. The book covers almost 20 years of thinking and took him two years to compile and complete.

The book contains his theories on gravity, three laws of motion and calculus. It’s a source of inspiration and knowledge to many scientists and mathematicians today.

38. Isaac Newton was 84 when he died in his sleep. Although his exact cause of death is unknown, when he turned 80 he started suffering from severe stomach pain and digestive problems and was put on a strict diet.

He later died on March 31, 1727, with some speculating his recent health diagnosis had something to do with it. He is buried at Westminster Abbey among other notable figures like Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, and Charles Dickens. 

isaac newton and light

Is the Isaac Newton Apple Falling Story True or Not?

History tells us that an apple played a significant role in helping Newton discover gravity, but hang on – is this story really true or is it just a myth?

According to the Royal Society – and Newton himself – the story is true.

During an Interview with his Biographer, he said that; it was really an apple falling from a tree that first got him wondering about the gravity and force of attraction from the earth.

So we can say that the story is true, but the apple didn’t actually fall on his head. He just noticed the gravitational pull from an apple falling from the tree that he was looking at.

Did you learn something new about Isaac Newton, his early life, and his career when reading these facts? If you did, and you’re a history buff looking for more interesting information, check out these facts about World War II.

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