The world of physics owes a lot to Sir Isaac Newton. It is said that his breakthroughs in the field carved a path for the next 200 years. Newton is a figure who became so iconic that it is often hard to separate fact from myth when discussing his life. Are you curious to learn more about one of the greatest minds in history? Get ready to crunch some numbers as you count down the 10 most interesting facts about physicist Isaac Newton.
He Was Born on Christmas Day
Newton was born on Christmas Day in 1642 in a small hamlet in Lincolnshire. The circumstances of Newton's birth were interesting because was actually born three months premature. He was very small at birth. In addition, his father had passed away three months prior to his birth.
He Wasn't Taught Math in School
Newton attended King's School from ages twelve to 17. Math was not part of the curriculum at this institution. Newton was instead educated in Latin and Greek. He took an interest in creating sundials and models of windmills to distinguish himself as a student and take revenge against a schoolyard bully.
He Was an Eternal Bachelor
Newton never married. There is a popular rumor that he was engaged for a time. However, history cannot substantiate that claim.
He Suffered a Nervous Breakdown
Newton suffered a mental breakdown in 1693. His breakdown is chronicled through a series of erratic and accusatory letters he sent to Samuel Pepys and John Locke.
He Was Very Interested in Alchemy
Few people realize that a large chunk of Newton's writings deal with the subject of alchemy. While he spent close to 30 years studying the subject, he kept it hidden from his colleagues for fear that his interest in alchemy would harm his reputation. His papers on the subject were later gathered and donated to Cambridge University.
Copies of His Famous Apple Tree Are for Sale
Nearly everyone has heard the story of the apple falling from a tree that inspired Newton to ponder gravitation. The King's School claims to have the tree from the story on their campus. A descendant of that tree now grows outside the gate of Trinity College at Cambridge. The public can actually purchase grafts from that tree from the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale. Of course, many still question if the apple story truly happened at all.
He Helped Run the Royal Mint
Newton served as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint from 1696-1727. Newton was appointed to this position when he was 55 years old. It was seen as an important gesture at the time because he had not been awarded posts in church or state like most others who shared his high standing in society.
It was widely reported that Newton stuttered whenever he addressed a crowd. This may have been why he was much more prolific as a writer than as an orator.
A Fire Destroyed Nearly 20 Years of His Research
Newton's laboratory suffered a devastating fire that wiped out research he had spent two decades accumulating. Newton claimed at the time that his dog was responsible for starting the fire. However, some questioned whether he even owned a dog at all. Many believe it was Newton himself who caused the fire by allowing a breeze from an open window to knock over a lit candle.
He Studied the Apocalypse
Newton had a strong interest in the bible throughout his life. He took his faith a step further by applying mathematical principles to his biblical research. The results of his research led him to declare that the end of the world would not happen before 2060.