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Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World (2000)

by David Berlinski

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206496,142 (2.77)None
Sir Isaac Newton is among the giants of the scientific era. It was Newton who conceived the imperial vision of mathematical physics and Newton again who created the first and perhaps the greatest of scientific theories. Physicists searching for the elusive final theory that will conclusively explain matter in all of its manifestations are his heirs.Yet for all that, Newton has remained inaccessible to most modern readers, and even to many scientists, indisputably great but indisputably remote.In this witty, engaging, and often moving examination of Newton's life, David Berlinski recovers the man behind the mathematical breakthroughs. The story carries the reader from Newton's unremarkable childhood to his awkward undergraduate days at Cambridge and then to the astonishing year in which, working alone, he laid the foundation for his system of the world. Thereafter, Berlinski describes the creation of Newton's masterpiece, the Principia Mathematica, the monumental feuds that poisoned his soul and that wearied his supporters, and Newton's final re-creation of himself as the master of England's financial system.This is less an exhaustive biography than an appreciation of Newton's greatest accomplishment. When he brought together years of work and towering logic into his "system of the world," Newton projected just one human mind to the outermost stars and planets. At once, he forever redefined the meaning of "nature," and of man's place in the cosmos. This seminal creative act has proved more powerful than that of any politician or king and more long-lasting than any dynasty. Newton's Gift is an edifying celebration of a transcendent man.… (more)

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Showing 4 of 4
The author writes with a thesaurus at his elbow, but doesn't know how to use it. Utterly disappointing. ( )
  themulhern | Nov 2, 2019 |
HARD
  JRCornell | Feb 5, 2019 |
Truly painful to read because the he writing is comically and absurdly pretentious. Despite the billing, this is really a look at some of Newton's discoveries rather than his life, which is so poorly chronicled that to call this a biography does the term injustice. Even the sections that do attempt to provide a biographical review are absurd, with the author either claiming that little is known about a particularly period of Newton's life, and then using his imagination to illustrate what might have taken place, or offering a personal embellishment on other events. To top off this bizarre approach, the language used to describe these imaginary events is so florid and ridiculous it makes it impossible to stay engaged as the author and his writing style fight to take center stage instead of the story. There is some entertainment value here as I'd wager some of the passages in this book may be the worst ever written, (certainly the worst I've ever read) but on the balance it wouldn't be a bad idea to skip this book. ( )
  XanderS | Jul 12, 2016 |
good history of the development of the calculus and Newton's part
  JFDausman | Sep 22, 2014 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Epigraph
They reckon ill that leave me out,
With me they fly, I am the wings,
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
Dedication
Dedicated to
my parents at ninety
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INTRODUCTION
Isaac Newton is the largest figure in the history of western science, his influence both inescapable and immeasurable.
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Sir Isaac Newton is among the giants of the scientific era. It was Newton who conceived the imperial vision of mathematical physics and Newton again who created the first and perhaps the greatest of scientific theories. Physicists searching for the elusive final theory that will conclusively explain matter in all of its manifestations are his heirs.Yet for all that, Newton has remained inaccessible to most modern readers, and even to many scientists, indisputably great but indisputably remote.In this witty, engaging, and often moving examination of Newton's life, David Berlinski recovers the man behind the mathematical breakthroughs. The story carries the reader from Newton's unremarkable childhood to his awkward undergraduate days at Cambridge and then to the astonishing year in which, working alone, he laid the foundation for his system of the world. Thereafter, Berlinski describes the creation of Newton's masterpiece, the Principia Mathematica, the monumental feuds that poisoned his soul and that wearied his supporters, and Newton's final re-creation of himself as the master of England's financial system.This is less an exhaustive biography than an appreciation of Newton's greatest accomplishment. When he brought together years of work and towering logic into his "system of the world," Newton projected just one human mind to the outermost stars and planets. At once, he forever redefined the meaning of "nature," and of man's place in the cosmos. This seminal creative act has proved more powerful than that of any politician or king and more long-lasting than any dynasty. Newton's Gift is an edifying celebration of a transcendent man.

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