9781400032952

Isaac Newton

Gleick, James

ISBN 10: 1400032954 / 1-4000-3295-4
ISBN 13: 9781400032952
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2004
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
Isaac Newton was born in a stone farmhouse in 1642, fatherless and unwanted by his mother. When he died in London in 1727 he was so renowned he was given a state funeral—an unheard-of honor for a subject whose achievements were in the realm of the intellect. During the years he was an irascible presence at Trinity College, Cambridge, Newton imagined properties of nature and gave them names— mass, gravity, velocity—things our science now takes for granted. Inspired by Aristotle, spurred on by Galileo’s discoveries and the philosophy of Descartes, Newton grasped the intangible and dared to take its measure, a leap of the mind unparalleled in his generation.

James Gleick, the author of Chaos and Genius, and one of the most acclaimed science writers of his generation, brings the reader into Newton’s reclusive life and provides startlingly clear explanations of the concepts that changed forever our perception of bodies, rest, and motion—ideas so basic to the twenty-first century, it can truly be said: We are all Newtonians.

Review:
As a schoolbook figure, Isaac Newton is most often pictured sitting under an apple tree, about to discover the secrets of gravity. In this short biography, James Gleick reveals the life of a man whose contributions to science and math included far more than the laws of motion for which he is generally famous. Gleick's always-accessible style is hampered somewhat by the need to describe Newton's esoteric thinking processes. After all, the man invented calculus. But readers who stick with the book will discover the amazing story of a scientist obsessively determined to find out how things worked. Working alone, thinking alone, and experimenting alone, Newton often resorted to strange methods, as when he risked his sight to find out how the eye processed images:

.... Newton, experimental philosopher, slid a bodkin into his eye socket between eyeball and bone. He pressed with the tip until he saw 'severall white darke & coloured circles'.... Almost as recklessly, he stared with one eye at the sun, reflected in a looking glass, for as long as he could bear.

From poor beginnings, Newton rose to prominence and wealth, and Gleick uses contemporary accounts and notebooks to track the genius's arc, much as Newton tracked the paths of comets. Without a single padded sentence or useless fact, Gleick portrays a complicated man whose inspirations required no falling apples. --Therese Littleton

Review

Review:
"Can a talented but non-specialist science writer have any hope of contributing a serious, insightful biography of such a monumental man? In this case Gleick wins the gamble. His Isaac Newton is now the biography of choice for the interested layman…. The extraordinary breadth of Newton's interests is brilliantly delineated by Gleick. Newton the man emerges from the shadows."
--Owen Gingerich, The New York Times Book Review

" Accurate and readable… Gleick has gone back to [Newton's] original notebooks and brought them to life. For casual reader with a serious interest in Newton's life and work, I recommend Gleick's biography as an excellent place to start."
--Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books

"A slender, thoroughly researched account of Newton's life, written in a spare sometimes lyrical prose style… What's most fascinating about [Newton], and what makes Gleick's biography so intriguing, is that Newton just sort of came up with things by himself, as if out of the blue…And incredibly, he got the right answers."
--Farhad Manjoo, Salon.com

"What a great subject for James Gleick! Isaac Newton was a geniuses’ genius. His secret jottings changed the way we think about the universe, from the infinite to the infinitesimal. He was larger than life in his search for order, and he had heroic adventures in the realms of mystery and chaos. His behavior on this earth was as eccentric as his voyages beyond it were spectacular. Gleick has written the perfect short life."-- Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of a Finch

“The book has the magic of a wonderful laboratory experiment. James Gleick uses some complex components to make a brilliantly orchestrated and compelling narrative. His Isaac Newton is a masterpiece of clarity – so difficult to write, so easy to read.”
--Michael Holroyd, author of Works on Paper

"In addition to reflecting on Newton's genius, Gleick provides a fresh and brilliant portrait of his personality and life, the people who mattered to him, the influences which played on him, and the contexts of his achievements, giving us a vivid picture of this superhuman yet all-too-mortal man."
--Oliver Sacks, author of Uncle Tungsten

“[ISAAC NEWTON] is beautifully paced and very stylishly written: compact, atmospheric, elegant. It offers a brilliant and engaging study in the paradoxes of the scientific imagination. It’s more revealing than a falling apple!”
-- Richard Holmes, author of Coleridge

“After reading Jim Gleick’s beautifully written and intimate portrait of Newton, I felt as if I’d spent an evening by the fire with that complex and troubled genius.”
--Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams, The Diagnosis and Reunion

"Gleick's descriptions of Newton's scientific breakthroughs are clear and engaging… [ISAAC NEWTON] will bring this chapter in the history of science to a broader audience."
-- Publishers Weekly

"[An] engaging, concise biography of a monumental visionary and eccentric whose life was as remarkable as the universe he struggled to understand."
-- Kirkus Reviews



From the Back Cover

Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

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