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# A Biography of Sir Isaac Newton, the Physicist and Mathematician

At his birth on Christmas day 1642 in Woolsthorpe Lincolnshire England Newton was so tiny and frail that he was not expected to live Yet despite his boyhood frailty he lived to the age of 85 As a delicate child he was a loner interested more in reading solving mathematical problems and mechanical tinkering than in taking part in the usual boyish activities Until the time Newton entered Cambridge University in 1661 there was little inkling as to his mental prowess His shyness kept him from making friends easily and he did not mix with his more boisterous fellow students At the university he took courses in Latin Greek Hebrew logic geometry and trigonometry and he attended lectures in astronomy natural philosophy and optics His leisure time was spent reading works by Kepler and by Descartes the inventor of analytic geometry and filling his notebooks with remarks on the refraction of light the grinding of lenses and the extraction of roots of algebraic equations Newton received his baccalaureate degree--without any great distinction--and then returned to his home in Woolsthorpe because of the plague that was sweeping Europe Over a period of 18 or so months at home which were probably the most productive years of his life Newton discovered the expansion of the general binomial abn invented the fluxions differential calculus demonstrated that white light was composed of different colors of light discovered the law of gravitation and laid the foundations of celestial mechanics In 1668 Newton constructed the worlds first reflecting telescope It had an aperture of 1 inch and a tube length of 6 inches which led Newton to say of it This small instrument though in itself contemptible may yet be looked upon as the epitome of what may be done this way Not satisfied with his first effort he completed an improved and somewhat larger reflector with an aperture of nearly 2 inches

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