Isaac Newton

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by kelseygolden
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Isaac Newton

Trinity College

It wasn’t long after re-entering school that Isaac’s uncle, William Ayscough also noticed Newton’s intellectual abilities and encouraged him to consider attending his old college. In 1661, Newton began his studies at Trinity College in Cambridge, England. He spent his time studying and worked as a sizar, or servant, by waiting tables and looking after the rooms of wealthier students. Newton’s main focus was to obtain a law degree at Trinity but he soon became immersed and fascinated with a variety of other subjects ranging from science to physics, optics, and philosophy. This caused a major setback in his academic performance but his efforts did not go to waste. During his dual studies, he kept notes on his findings and entitled them “Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae” meaning “Certain Philosophical Questions”. This single notebook would later become an important artifact in scientific history.

College Education


Given the full name Isaac Newton, this mathematician was born in a manor house in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England on January 4, 1643. However, his birthdate if often recorded as December 25, 1642 due to a difference in the calendar used during this time. Born prematurely to Isaac and Hannah Ayscough Newton, baby Isaac was not expected to live. His father was a very successful farmer but died shortly before Isaac was born. Hannah later remarried a minister named Barnabas Smith, leaving 3 year old Isaac behind with his grandmother Margery Ayscough. This event was very traumatic for Isaac and caused him to develop severe anxiety and an overwhelming sense of insecurity. Years later, in 1653, Barnabas died, causing Hannah and three children from her second marriage to return home to live with Isaac and Margery. Not much is known about his grandfather, James Ayscough but it is believed that the two did not have a loving relationship. Many resources suggest that Newton had a rough childhood and held resentment for his mother for leaving him behind.

At the age of 12, Newton began attending grammar school at King’s School in Grantham, just five miles from his home. Despite the close proximity of the school, he lived with a family known as the Clark’s. Mr. Clark was a pharmacist and had an apothecary and library inside the residence where Newton was introduced to the wonders of chemistry and mathematical studies. After hearing reports of his poor performance and inattentive behavior in school, Isaac’s mother pulled him from King’s School and had him return to take over the matters of her home. He was highly encouraged to become a farmer like his father but quickly demonstrated a lack of interest and talent in managing the estate and tending the farm. He was then sent back to King’s in 1660 to complete his basic education. This time, he stayed with Stokes, the headmaster of the school who began to notice academic potential in Newtin.

Early Years

Little is known about the impact of Newton's childhood on his mathematics career. However, some people believe his interest in math and science stemmed from living with the Clark family.

Isaac Newtonby Kelsey Golden

Woolsthrop manor house

Born: January 4, 1649Date of death: March 31, 1727

It wasn’t until 1663 when Newton began working with mathematical concepts. He bought a book about astrology but was not able to grasp the content due to a lack of mathematical knowledge. He was determined to learn more about this subject by reading the great works of Euclid, Descartes, Viéte, Wallis, and Oughtred. Some resources suggest that reading these pieces about algebra, geometry, and calculus led to major life-changes for Newton.

Newton received his bachelor’s degree from Trinity in April of 1665 after being elected a scholar on April 28 of the previous year. It was his plan to further his education but unforeseen circumstances affected him when the school was struck with The Great Plague in the summer of 1665. The two year break from school allowed Newton to dig deeper into the area of mathematics and make major advancements in the subject.

Isaac Newton went on to receive his Master of Arts degree in 1669 from Trinity once the school reopened. Throughout the course of his education. He arrived in the middle of what was known the Scientific Revolution of the 17th CenturyNewton was heavily influenced by the works and studies of famous mathematicians that would later lead him to become one of the famous mathematicians of all time.

Newton later went on to become a math professor at Trinity College but still spent a considerable amount of time making mathematical discoveries. He is often referred to as “The Father of Calculus” (he called it "fluxions") he invented ways to compute concepts like parabolas, tangents, lengths of curves, minima and maxima, and trigonomettic functions.

Mathematical Contributions

He invented a series of equations such as the Binomial Theorem and explained the idea of polar coordianates. He discovered mathemtaical ideas that we know today as differentiation and integration calculus. Perhaps his most famous findings was the trigonometric equation: ex = ∑ xk / k! which is considered the most "important series in mathematics".

In 1867. Newton, along with his friend and astronomer, Edmond Halley, published his most famous piece of work known as "Philosphiae Naturalis Principia Matematica" or "Principles of Natural Philosophy". Newton took mathematic principles and used them to explain scientific phenomena. It has been said that the work within this publication is so complex that even the best mathmeticians cannot follow Newton's thinking.

Newton used his love of math to make a number of scientific inventions. He is perhaps most famous for his discovery of gravity and laws of motion.

Scientific Accomplishments

Later Years

It is said that Newton recieved inspiration to explore the concept of gravity when an apple fell on his head. Throughout his research, he developed three different laws of motion:

Newton also developed theories about light and spent a lot of time working with telescopes. In 1668. he invented a light reflecting telescope that proved his theories.

In 1704, he publiushed nother famous piece of work called "Opticks" that highlighted his ideas and research on the science of light.

Newton's extraordinary work in the field of math and science has inspried many people in the past and present. The names of other famous mathematicians and scientists are not known but reseach does share that experts have analyzed Newton;s work for many years and continue to be amazed by the breakthroughs he made. His work has even been used to challenge the ideas of Aristotle! If it weren't for his discoveries, perhaps we would not have known about gravity or important mathematical equations until years later, thus causing a delay in certain advancements.

Isaac Newton gained so much fame and fortune after publishing his works and discoveries. In his final years, he moved to Cranbury Park, Winchester, England to live with his niece and her husnad Catherine and John Conduitt. He spent most of his later years here. On March 31, 1727, at the age of 85, Isaac Newton died after blacking out from sever pain in his abdomen, Interestingly, he never married or had children.

Aside from the contributions he made to the field of mathematics and science, Newton also made an impact in the royal Parliment in England. He ended his position at Trinity School in Cambridge and joined King James II's effort to bring back Catholic teaching to at the school. In 1689, Newton was elected into Parliment as a representive for Cambridge.

The place and time in which Newton lived had a huge impact on his professional life. He attended a prestigious school where the work of the greatest mathematicians and scientists in history were being taught. His efforts were cherished by many people, including the queen of England. In April of 1705, Queen Anne knighted Newton for his for his many contributions. This is why we often refer to this famous mathematician as Sir Isaac Newton.

O'Connor, J.J & Robertson, E.F. (n.d.). Sir Isaac Newton. Retrieved from: Isaac Newton Biography. (n.d). Retrieved from: Isaac Newton (n.d). BBC. Retrieved from: (Sir) Newton. (n.d). Fabpedigree. Retrieved from: Newton Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved from:


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