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Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
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Sir Isaac Newton
(25 Dec 1642 - 20 Mar 1727)

English physicist and mathematician who made seminal discoveries in several areas of science, and was the leading scientist of his era.


SIR ISAAC NEWTON

Isaac Newton Quote: like a boy playing on the seashore [pebbles]…whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me
Click image for larger 800 x 500px version
from Famous Men of Science (1889)

Portrait of Isaac Newton - upper body

[p.28] In the same year, 1642, in which Galileo, sad and blind, went away from the earth, Sir Isaac Newton came to make his home upon it.

He was born December 25, the only child of Isaac Newton and Hannah Ayscough. The father died at thirty-seven, a few months after his marriage, and the young wife, after the birth of her child, was both father and mother to the helpless infant. He was so frail that there seemed little probability that he could live to manhood, or even boyhood. Naturally, between mother and son there grew a most ardent affection, which neither time nor death could change.

The manor-house of Woolsthorpe in Colsterworth, Lincoln county, was a two-story stone building, owned for a century by the Newton family, and bringing a limited income from the little farm in connection with it. Here Isaac passed his childhood, going to the schools near by, and learning to read, write, and cipher.

At twelve, he was sent to the public school at Grantham, where he showed little taste for study, and managed easily to stand at the foot of his [p.29] class. When he was the last in the lowermost form but one, the boy next above him, as they were going to school, gave Isaac a kick, which occasioned severe pain. Stirred with wrath, Isaac challenged the other boy to a fight. For this purpose, they repaired to a neighboring churchyard, where young Newton, though much the smaller and weaker of the two, pounded his antagonist till he was glad to come to any terms of submission.

He resolved now that this boy should no longer stand above him in scholarship, and with a new ambition and energy born of his insult, he soon rose to the highest place in the school. It was not idleness, probably, that made Newton a poor scholar, but his mind was absorbed with making saws, hammers, hatchets, and other tools.

He made a windmill and placed it on the top of his home, the wind putting it in motion. When there was no wind, a novel expedient was resorted to. A mouse, which was called “the miller,” was trained to turn the windmill by walking on a tread wheel, with some corn just beyond his reach! All through life, he was exceedingly kind to animals, and could never tolerate shooting or hunting for sport. He objected to one of his nephews, when praised in his presence, “that he loved killing of birds,” and this was sufficient to win his disesteem. It is probable, therefore, that the little mouse was kindly cared for by the young experimenter.

[p.30] He also made a water clock, about four feet high, with a dial-plate at the top, with figures of the hours. The index was turned by a piece of wood, which either fell or rose by water dropping. Every morning the lad supplied his clock with the proper amount of water.

Besides these, he invented a four-wheeled carriage, which was moved with a handle by the person who sat in it. For his boy friends, he made lanterns of “crimpled paper” with a candle inside, to light them to school in the dark winter mornings, and paper kites of the best form and proportion. In dark nights he tied the lanterns to the tails of his kites, and ignorant people sometimes mistook them for comets!

On the manor-house at Woolsthorpe he carved sun-dials, which were visible a century later. He was a “sober, silent, and thinking lad,” who was always hammering in his room, or making drawings with his pen and pencil, designing with charcoal on his walls, birds, animals, ships, and mathematical diagrams.

Mrs. Newton, the mother, had married again, after a singular courtship. “Mr. Smith, a neighboring clergyman, who had a very good estate, had lived a bachelor till he was pretty old, and, one of his parishioners advising him to marry, he said he did not know where to meet with a good wife. The man answered, ‘The widow Newton is an extraordinary good woman.’ ‘But,’ said Mr. Smith, ‘how do I know she will have me, and [p.31] I don’t care to ask and be denied; but if you will go and ask her, I will pay you for your day’s work.’

“He went accordingly. Her answer was, she would be advised by her brother Ayscough, upon which Mr. Smith sent the same person to Mr. Ayscough on the same errand, who, upon consulting with his sister, treated with Mr. Smith, who gave her son Isaac a parcel of land, one of the terms insisted upon by the widow if she married him.”

Though for a time she was thus removed from Isaac, leaving him with his grandmother, on the death of Rev. Mr. Smith, she returned to the manor-house.

When Isaac had reached his fifteenth year, his mother, not seeming to think of any profession for her mechanical son, decided to make of him a farmer and grazier. On Saturdays, the market day at Grantham, she would send him with grain and other agricultural produce, in the care of an old and trusty servant. The boy had no taste for selling produce, and would hasten to the attic in the house of Mr. Clark, an apothecary, with whom he had boarded while at school, and there spend his hours in reading old books, till the time came for him to go home, the servant meantime having sold the vegetables.

Sometimes, however, the lad would not go as far as Grantham, but, seating himself beside a hedge along the road, would read some favorite author [p.32] till the servant returned. When his mother sent him to watch the cattle, they enjoyed a neighbor’s corn-field, while he enjoyed a book or whittled out water-wheels. It did not seem intentional disobedience toward a mother of whom he was very fond, but complete absorption in some other pursuit.

When he was sixteen he was greatly interested in finding the proper form of a body which would offer the least resistance when moving in a fluid. In a severe storm, to test the force of the gale, he jumped first in the direction in which the wind blew, and then in opposition to the wind, and after measuring the length of the leap in both directions, and comparing it with the length to which he could jump in a perfectly calm day, he was enabled to compute the force of the storm.

His mother soon found that her boy would not make a successful farmer, and sent him back to school at Grantham, to prepare for Trinity College, Cambridge, which he entered when he was nineteen.

It is probable that the time spent at Grantham was a happy time; for young Newton there met and, it is said, loved Miss Storey, sister of Dr. Storey, a physician near Colsterworth, and daughter of the apothecary’s second wife. She was two or three years younger than Newton, a girl of attractive face and unusual talents. As his income as a Fellow was small, after leaving college, they did not marry, though his interest in her continued [p.33] unabated through life. Though she was twice married, he never paid a visit to Woolsthorpe without going to see her, and liberally relieved her from little pecuniary embarrassments, when his own circumstances had become easy. How the world loves constancy; an affection which knows no change! That he would have been happier in those quiet years of study, even in his poverty, had he married, is probable; but that the world gained by his undivided devotion to science, is equally probable.

On July 8, 1661, Newton entered college, and soon, through the study of Descartes’ Geometry, showed his skill in higher mathematics. And now began an almost unexampled development of mind.

At twenty-two, he was studying a comet so closely, and the circles and halo round the moon, that he impaired his health by sitting up late at night. In 1665, May 20, when he was twenty-three, he committed to writing his first discovery of fluxions—”the infinitely small increase or decrease of a variable or flowing quantity in a certain infinitely small and constant period of time.”

The same year, when the college had been dismissed on account of the plague in Cambridge, Newton made his immortal discovery of the Attraction of Gravitation. While sitting alone in his garden at Woolsthorpe, and observing an apple fall to the ground, it occurred to him that as the same power by which the apple fell was not sensibly diminished at the summits of the loftiest spires, [p.34] nor on the tops of the highest mountains, it might extend to the moon, about which he had been studying, and retain her in her orbit. If to the moon, why not to the planets?

The tree from which the apple fell was so much decayed in 1820, that it was cut down, but the wood was carefully preserved by Mr. Turnor of Stoke Rocheford.

In the beginning of the following year, 1666, when Newton was twenty-four, he purchased a prism, in order to make some experiments on Descartes’ theory of colors. He made a hole in his window shutter, darkened the room, and admitted a ray of the sunlight. On the opposite wall he saw the solar or prismatic spectrum, an elongated image of the sun, about five times as long as it was broad, and consisting of seven different colors; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. White light was thus discovered to be of a compound nature; a mixture of all the colors. He said, “Whiteness is the usual color of light; for light is a confused aggregate of rays endued with all sorts of colors, as they are promiscuously darted from the various parts of luminous bodies.” If any one color predominates, the light will incline to that color, as the yellow flame of a candle. Heretofore, there had been all sorts of conjectures about the nature and origin of colors. Descartes believed them to be a modification of light, depending on the direct or rotary motion of its particles. But Newton showed by many experiments that [p.35] color is a property of light, or innate in light itself. We speak of a thing as red because it reflects red, and absorbs all the other colors. The green leaf stops or absorbs the red, blue, and violet rays of the white light, and reflects and transmits only those which compose its green.

He also found that the red rays are refracted or turned out of their course least of all the colors, and violet most, thereby discovering the different refrangibility of the rays of light; “a discovery which has had the most extensive applications to every branch of science, and, what is very rare in the history of inventions, one to which no other person has made the slightest claim.”

His beautiful experiments with rings resulted in his Scale of Colors, of great value in optical research.

In 1668, when Newton was twenty-six, he constructed a small reflecting telescope, and soon a larger one, which he sent to the Royal Society; and was made a member of that body, in 1671. Two years previously he had been appointed to the Lucasian professorship of mathematics at Cambridge.

He was now, at twenty-seven, spoken of as a man of “unparalleled genius.” He had discovered the compound nature of white light, the attraction of gravity, fluxions, and made the first reflecting telescope ever directed toward the heavens, though one had been invented previously, by James Gregory, of Aberdeen. The boy who had thought of a mouse to turn his windmill had thought out [p.36] some of the sublimest things in nature, and was henceforward to rank as one of the few masterminds of science. Newton’s doctrine of colors met with the most bitter opposition. At last, he became so tired of the controversy, that he wrote Leibnitz, “I was so persecuted with discussions arising out of my theory of light, that I blamed my own imprudence for parting with so substantial a blessing as my quiet to run after a shadow.” To another he wrote, “I see I have made myself a slave to philosophy; but if I get free of Mr. Linus’s business, I will resolutely bid adieu to it eternally, excepting what I do for my private satisfaction, or leave to come out after me; for I see a man must either resolve to put out nothing new, or to become a slave to defend it.”

Newton was also troubled pecuniarily at this time, and asked to be excused from the weekly payments to the Royal Society, thereby resigning his membership. He even meditated the study of law, as his income was so limited. Strange that so many of the great things of this life are wrought out by those who are in sorrow or privation.

But amid all the opposition to his discoveries and his poverty, the unparalleled devotion to study was continued. When he was weary of other branches, he said “he refreshed himself with history and chronology.” Years afterward he published the “Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended, to which is prefixed a short chronicle, from the first memory of things in Europe, to the Conquest [p.37] of Persia, by Alexander the Great.” Says a gentleman who was with him for years, “I never knew him to take any recreation or pastime, either in riding out to take the air, walking, boating, or any other exercise whatever, thinking all hours lost that were not spent in his studies, to which he kept so close that he seldom left his chamber except at term time, when he read in the schools, as being Lucasianus Professor, where so few went to hear him, and fewer that understood him, that oftentimes he did in a manner, for want of hearers, read to the walls....

“So intent, so serious upon his studies that he ate very sparingly, nay, ofttimes he has forgot to eat at all, so that, going into his chamber, I have found his mess untouched, of which when I have reminded him he would reply, ‘Have I?’ and then making to the table, would eat a bit or two standing, for I cannot say I ever saw him sit at table by himself. At some seldom entertainments the masters of colleges were chiefly his guests.

“He very rarely went to bed till two or three of the clock, sometimes not till five or six, lying about four or five hours, especially at spring and fall of the leaf, at which times he used to employ about six weeks in his elaboratory, the fire scarcely going out either night or day, he sitting up one night, and I another, till he had finished his chemical experiments, in the performances of which he was the most accurate, strict, exact....”

When his most intense studies were carried on, [p.38] “he learned to go to bed at twelve, finding by experience that if he exceeded that hour but a little, it did him more harm in his health than a whole day’s study.”

“He very rarely went to dine in the hall, except on some public days, and then if he has not been minded, would go very carelessly, with shoes down at heels, stockings untied, surplice on, and his head scarcely combed.... At some seldom times when he designed to dine in the hall, he would turn to the left hand and go out into the street, when making a stop when he found his mistake, would hastily turn back, and then sometimes, instead of going into the hall, would return to his chamber again.... In his chamber he walked so very much that you might have thought him to be educated at Athens, among the Aristotelian sect.”

So absent-minded was he, the story is told of him, that going home to Colsterworth, he led his horse up a hill. When he designed to remount, the animal had slipped the bridle and gone away unperceived, though Newton held the bridle in his hand all the time. He would often sit down on his bedside after he rose, and remain there for hours without dressing, so completely absorbed was he in his thought. How few in all this world have been so devoted to science! And yet how many expect success without this devotion!

The same gentleman writes of Newton, “His carriage was very meek, sedate, and humble, never seemingly angry, of profound thought, his [p.39] countenance mild, pleasant, and comely. I cannot say I ever saw him laugh but once.”

Engraving of Isaac Newton - head and shoulders, possibly from a sculpted bust.

In 1687, when Newton was forty-five, his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published. “The Principia consists of three books. The First Book, besides the definition and axioms, or laws of motion, with which it begins, consists of fourteen sections, in the first of which the author explains the method of prime and ultimate ratios used in his investigations, and which is similar to the method of fluxions. The other sections treat of centripetal forces, and motions in fixed and movable orbits.

“The Second Book consists of nine sections, and treats of bodies moving in resisting media, or oscillating as pendulums.

“The Third Book consists of five sections, on the Causes of the System of the World, on the Quantity of Lunar Errors, on the Quantity of the Tides, on the Precession of the Equinoxes, and on Comets.”

The great principle of the Principia is universal gravitation, “That every particle of matter in the universe is attracted by or gravitates to every other particle of matter, with a force inversely proportional to the squares of their distances.” By the laws of gravity, Newton was enabled to calculate the quantity of matter in the sun, and in all the planets, and even to determine their density, results which Adam Smith said “were above the reach of human reason and experience.” He [p.40] ascertained that the weight of the same body would be twenty-three times greater at the surface of the sun than at the surface of the earth, and that the density of the earth was four times greater than that of the sun. He found the true figure of the earth; he explained the phenomena of the tides.

Of the “Principia,” Sir David Brewster says, in his able life of Sir Isaac Newton, it is “a work which will be memorable not only in the annals of one science or of one country, but which will form an epoch in the history of the world, and will ever be regarded as the brightest page in the records of human reason,—a work, may we not add, which would be read with delight in every planet of our system,—in every system of the universe. What a glorious privilege was it to have been the author of the ‘Principia’!

“There was but one earth upon whose form, and tides, and movements, the philosopher could exercise his genius,—one moon whose perturbations and inequalities and actions he could study,—one sun whose controlling force and apparent motions he could calculate and determine,—one system of planets whose mutual disturbances could tax his highest reason,—one system of comets whose eccentric paths he could explore and rectify,—and one universe of stars to whose binary and multiple combinations he could extend the law of terrestrial gravity.

“To have been the chosen sage summoned to the study of that earth, these systems, and that [p.41] universe, the favored lawgiver to worlds unnumbered, the high priest in the temple of boundless space,—was a privilege that could be granted but one member of the human family;—and to have executed the last was an achievement which, in its magnitude, can be measured only by the infinite in space, and in the duration of its triumphs by the infinite in time. That sage,—that lawgiver,—that high priest was Newton.”

The “Principia” created the greatest interest throughout Europe, but met with violent opposition. While Laplace said it would take “pre-eminence above all the other productions of human genius,” the majority could not believe that great planets were suspended in empty space, and retained in their orbits by an invisible power in the sun.

When Newton presented copies to the heads of colleges, some of them, Dr. Babington of Trinity among the number, said, “they might study seven years before they understood anything of it.”

In 1687, Newton’s method of fluxions was first published, twenty years after its invention, and then because the friends of Leibnitz, the author of the “Differential Calculus,” claimed priority of discovery. The quarrel aroused the scientific world, embittered the silent mathematician, and impaired his health.

In 1689, when he was forty-seven, he was chosen member of parliament, and represented Cambridge University in the House of Commons for thirteen [p.42] months. He took no active part in the debates, but was of course respected for his wonderful mind.

This same year, his beloved mother died. Anxiously he had watched through whole nights by her bedside, seeking in all ways to keep her from leaving him alone in the world.

He was now nearly fifty. His life had been laborious, with an insufficient income. His friends, John Locke among the number, tried to obtain various positions for him, but failed. They recommended him for provost of King’s College, but the position could not be obtained because he had not taken priest’s orders.

Seemingly unappreciated, worn with his incessant brain work, his appetite failing, and unable to sleep, with neither mother nor wife to comfort him, the sensitive organization of the great man became overstrained, and mind and body were unfitted for work. It is stated that his ill health was in part consequent upon the burning of some manuscripts on optics, by a lighted candle on the table among his papers.

When he was fifty-three, the long hard road of poverty turned into a highway of plenty, through the influence of a friend. Charles Montague, an associate of Newton at the university and also in parliament, though nineteen years his junior,—intellectual affinities are uninfluenced by age,—had been made Commissioner of the Treasury, then Privy Councillor, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and later still, Baron of Halifax.

[p.43] Lord Halifax appointed Newton to be Warden of the Mint, and then Master, with an income of between six thousand and seven thousand five hundred dollars annually, which position he held for the remainder of his life. His home in London, where he kept six servants, with his brilliant niece, Miss Catherine Barton, for his companion, became a place of rest and comfort to the tired philosopher. Lord Halifax was a great admirer of Newton’s niece, Miss Catherine Barton, to whom he left, at his death, a beautiful home and twenty-five thousand dollars, “as a token of the sincere love, affection, and esteem I have long had for her person, and as a small recompense for the pleasure and happiness I have had in her conversation.”

The days of privation were over, and Newton had earned this rest and prosperity. Great people often came to dine with him. At one of his dinners, Newton proposed to drink, not to the health of kings and princes, but to all honest persons, to whatever country they belonged. “We are all friends,” he added, “because we unanimously aim at the only object worthy of man, which is the knowledge of truth. We are also of the same religion, because, leading a simple life, we conform ourselves to what is right, and we endeavor sincerely to give to the Supreme Being that worship which, according to our feeble lights, we are persuaded will please him most.”

Other honors now come to Newton. In 1703, [p.44] he was elected President of the Royal Society, and was annually reëlected during the remaining twenty-five years of his life. On April 16, 1705, when he was sixty-three, Queen Anne conferred the honor of knighthood upon her most illustrious subject, Sir Isaac Newton, before a distinguished company at Cambridge University. In 1704, the year previous, his great work on optics had been published, written over twenty years before.

About this time, it seems that the great philosopher would have liked to marry Lady Norris, the widow of Sir William Norris, Baronet of Speke, and Member of Parliament. Sent to Delhi as ambassador to the Great Mogul, he died in 1702, between Mauritius and St. Helena, on his homeward passage. He was the third husband to Lady Norris, and Sir Isaac, now over sixty, desired to be the fourth, as appears from the following letter:—

“Madam,—Your ladyship’s great grief at the loss of Sir William shows that if he had returned safe home, your ladyship could have been glad to have lived still with a husband, and therefore your aversion at present from marrying again can proceed from nothing else than the memory of him whom you have lost. To be always thinking on the dead, is to live a melancholy life among sepulchres, and how much grief is an enemy to your health, is very manifest by the sickness it brought when you received the first news of your [p.45] widowhood. And can your ladyship resolve to spend the rest of your days in grief and sickness?

“Can you resolve to wear a widow’s habit perpetually,—a habit which is less acceptable to company, a habit which will be always putting you in mind of your lost husband, and thereby promote you grief and indisposition till you leave it off? The proper remedy for all these mischiefs is a new husband, and whether your ladyship should admit of a proper remedy for such maladies, is a question which I hope will not need much time to consider of.

“Whether your ladyship should go constantly in the melancholy dress of a widow, or flourish once more among the ladies; whether you should spend the rest of your days cheerfully or in sadness, in health or in sickness, are questions which need not much consideration to decide them. Besides that your ladyship will be better able to live according to your quality by the assistance of a husband than upon your own estate alone; and, therefore, since your ladyship likes the person proposed, I doubt not but in a little time to have notice of your ladyship’s inclinations to marry, at least, that you will give him leave to discourse with you about it.

“I am, madam, your ladyship’s most humble and most obedient servant.”

If Lady Norris “liked the person proposed,” as Sir Isaac imagined, a marriage was not the result. It is just possible that he was like Leibnitz, who [p.46] proposed to a lady when he was fifty. The lady asked for time to take the matter into consideration, and as Leibnitz thus obtained leisure to consider the matter again, he was never married.

For thirteen years Sir Isaac lived on Jermyn Street, London; then moved to Chelsea, a place dear to those who love George Eliot or admire Carlyle; and then to Martin Street, near Leicester Fields.

In his latter years he wrote much on theological subjects, especially to prove the existence of a Deity. When he was eighty-three he published a third edition of the “Principia.” At eighty-five he read manuscript without spectacles. He reasoned as acutely as ever, his memory alone failing.

On March 2, 1727, he presided at a meeting of the Royal Society. He was taken ill on the following day, and, although a great sufferer for several days, never uttered a complaint. He died on Monday, March 20, and his body was laid in the Jerusalem Chamber, and thence conveyed to Westminster Abbey for burial. The pall was supported by the Lord High Chancellor and several Dukes and Earls.

On the front of his monument are sculptured youths, bearing in their hands emblematic designs of Newton’s principal discoveries. One carries a prism, another a reflecting telescope, a third is weighing the sun and planets with a steelyard, a fourth is employed about a furnace, and two [p.47] others are loaded with money newly coined. The monument bears this inscription.

Here Lies
SIR ISAAC NEWTON, KNIGHT,
Who by a vigor of mind, almost supernatural,
First demonstrated
The motions and figures of the Planets,
The Paths of the Comets, and the
Tides of the Ocean.
He diligently investigated
The different refrangibilities of the Rays of Light,
And the properties of the Colors to which
they give rise.
An Assiduous, Sagacious, and Faithful Interpreter
of Nature, Antiquity, and the Holy Scriptures,
He asserted in his Philosophy the Majesty of
God, and exhibited in his Conduct the
simplicity of the Gospel.
Let Mortals rejoice that there has existed
such and so great

An ornament of the human race.

Born 25 Dec., 1642; Died 20 March, 1727.

A beautiful full-length, white marble statue of Sir Isaac was erected in the ante-chapel of Trinity College, where he had done his wonderful work, when scarcely more than a boy.

While he gave generously during his life, he said, “they who give nothing till they die, never give at all,”—he left a personal estate of one hundred and [p.48] sixty thousand dollars, to be divided among his nephews and nieces.

The world honored him at last, and has through all the years. Bishop Burnet said, “Newton had the whitest soul he ever knew.” His habits were of the best. When asked to take snuff or tobacco, he declined, saying, “he would make no necessities to himself.”

He was modest to the last, saying, “that whatever service he had done the public was not owing to any extraordinary sagacity, but solely to industry and patient thought.” He said, a short time before his death: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Illustrated quote and portrait, not part of original text, added from source shown above. Text and engraving from the second chapter of Sarah Bolton, Famous Men of Science (1889), 28-48. B/W engraved image precedes page 29. (source)


See also:
  • Science Quotes by Sir Isaac Newton.
  • 25 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Newton's birth.
  • Isaac Newton - Comments on his “Playing on the Seashore” Quote
  • Isaac Newton - “Playing on the Seashore” illustrated quote - Medium 500px.
  • Isaac Newton - “Playing on the Seashore” illustrated quote - Large 800px.
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “A change in motion” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “A change in motion” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “In experimental philosophy” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “In experimental philosophy” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Standing on the shoulders of giants” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Standing on the shoulders of giants” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Impressed force is the action” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Impressed force is the action” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Inherent force of matter is the power of resisting…” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Inherent force of matter is the power of resisting…” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Plato is my friend” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Plato is my friend” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Colours which appear through the Prism ” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Colours which appear through the Prism ” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Nature does nothing in vain” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Nature does nothing in vain” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “No more causes of natural things should be admitted” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “No more causes of natural things should be admitted” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “God, in the beginning, formed matter” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “God, in the beginning, formed matter” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “The cause of gravity is what I do not pretend to know” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Isaac Newton - context of quote “The cause of gravity is what I do not pretend to know” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Sir Isaac Newton’s Apple-Tree - debunking the myth, from Historic Ninepins: A Book of Curiosities by John Timbs (1869)
  • Newton and the Dog - debunking the myth about Newton’s dog Diamond.
  • Booklist for Isaac Newton.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


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