Early life

  • Born 4 January 1643 in Lincolnshire, England
  • Came from a poor family, allowed to attend  school at King’s College for free because of his academic ability and bible knowledge
  • Attended Trinity College with intention of becoming an England Minister, graduated in 1666, bible knowledge impressed teachers again


  • Unorthodox Christian who was highly religious
  • Wrote more on Biblical hermeneutics and occult studies than on science and mathematics, the studies he is usually associated with
  • Saw God as the master creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation
  • Through his readings and interpretations of the Bible, he estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060
  • Believed in experimental method of science
  • ‘I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.’


  • Developed calculus, revolutionary form of mathematics, allowed for the calculation of the area inside a shape with curved sides, and to calculate the rate of change of physical quantities
  • Newton and Leibniz accused of stealing ideas on calculus from each other, later established that both came up with it at the same time
  • Used prisms to show that light was made up of colours of the rainbow, disproved ancient Greek ideas on light
  • Telescopes in his time broke light into unwanted colours, causing an obscure view of objects, solved problem by being first to construct a telescope with a curved mirror rather than lenses
  • In 1672, he became a member of the royal society (group of scientist who believed in experimental method)
  • Laws of motion

Key work

  • Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687)
  • Newton’s conception of the Universe based upon Natural and rationally understandable laws that became one of the seeds for Enlightenment ideology.
  • His work paved the way and enabled many of the advances of the Industrial Revolution which soon followed and were not to be improved upon for more than 200 years, and are still the underpinnings of the non-relativistic technologies of the modern world

Laws of motion

  • “Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.”
  • “The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F=ma.”
  • “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
  • heliocentricism
  • Newton, as he wrote in Principia, made clear his heliocentric view of the solar system – developed in a somewhat modern way, because already in the mid-1680s he recognized the “deviation of the Sun” from the centre of gravity of the solar system

Apple story

  • He was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree
  • Some suggest that the apple fell on Newton’s head, making him aware of the force of gravity
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


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