And just because he was one of the greatest scientists to have ever lived on Earth doesn’t really make him a completely sane or exceptionally happy person! Yes, Sir Isaac Newton’s life was in every way weird, mysterious and interesting. So, let us today learn 25 interesting and weird Sir Isaac Newton facts.
Many of you probably already know these facts but still, it is always fun to read about people who really left an impression on mankind that’s not going to fade until mankind ceases to exist. So, let’s start with the list of Isaac Newton facts…
Sir Isaac Newton Facts: 1-5
1. Newton died a virgin! He never married and there are no records of him having sex. That’s an awful statement. Please pardon us. Let us rephrase. It is believed he never have had sex. There is absolutely no way to verify this and even if he enjoyed some “behind closed doors ‘we time’” with someone, we will never come to know that.
2. Newton was very much into alchemy. So, what’s alchemy? It is a pseudoscience which deals with the study of converting lead and other base metals into gold. He actually wrote 169 books on it, none of which were ever published during his lifetime because under act 1404, making gold and silver was considered a felony.
3. Newton had an uncanny obsession with Bible. He studied Bible at great depths and wrote more on religion than about science or mathematics.
4. His study of Bible actually helped him predict a few things. For instance, he predicted that Lord Christ was crucified exactly on 3 April, AD 33. He also predicted that Apocalypse is not hitting mankind anytime sooner than 2060 AD.
5. Do you really think that Newton’s predictions were mere outcomes of his passion and obsession? Think again! It was Newton who first predicted that Jews will take back Israel and it turned out to absolutely correct!
Sir Isaac Newton Facts: 6-10
6. Newton almost became a farmer. He was actually born in a poor farmer family. When he turned 17, his mother kept insisting that he goes to the family farm after returning from school. He did follow his mom’s order but it turned out that he was an awful farmer. So, his uncle eventually managed to persuade his mother to allow him to join Cambridge’s Trinity College.
7. He could not have joined Trinity College if his mother never remarried. Actually, Newton came from a poor family and his father died 3 months before his birth [source], making conditions even worse. It was only after his mother decided to go for a second marriage that the financial conditions became somewhat stable and she had enough money to afford sending Newton to Trinity College.
8. Did you know that Sir Isaac Newton’s father’s name was also Isaac Newton?
9. There is a conflict about Newton’s date of birth. Well, we can’t really call it a conflict. Newton was born on December 25, 1642. Once Georgian Calendar was adopted, it turned out that Newton’s date of birth was January 4, 1663. We will go with the non-Georgian date because of the reason mentioned in next fact.
10. Year 1642 of the non-Georgian Calendar was the year of death for the Great Galileo Galilei.
Sir Isaac Newton Facts: 11-15
11. At birth, Newton was an underweight and small baby. He was born prematurely. It is being said that his mother told that he would easily fit into a quart mug. No one even expected that he would survive.
12. Newton was a sizar and waited tables when he was a student at Cambridge University. Sizar is actually a term that was used to describe those undergraduate students who received a nominal financial assistance for performing lowly duties. Newton was not only a waiter but also took care of the rooms of other students.
13. Newton was a big time weirdo. He purposefully stuck a blunt needle known as bodkin in his eye socket. Why did he do that? He was actually experimenting with properties of light and used himself as a guinea pig. James Gleick, author of Newton’s biography released in 2003, said that Newton did this because people at that time were not really sure whether the eyes were responsible for collecting light or creating it and Newton wanted to find that out. Newton wrote in his journal:
I tooke a bodkine gh & put it betwixt my eye & [the] bone as neare to [the] backside of my eye as I could: & pressing my eye [with the] end of it (so as to make [the] curvature a, bcdef in my eye) there appeared severall white darke & coloured circles…
14. Newton thought that he was a big time sinner. He actually gave a whole list of 48 sins he committed which included things like ‘punching his sister’, ‘peevishness with his mother and sister’, etc. The whole list can be found here.
15. Contrary to the popular belief that an apple fell on his head which led him to postulate the theory of universal gravitation, he actually saw it falling and realized that it was probably the same invisible force that makes apples fall is responsible for movements of moon. The apple never fell on his head.
Sir Isaac Newton Facts: 16-20
16. Despite being a scientist, Newton was extremely religious. Newton himself said:
Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.
17. Weirdly enough, despite being a very religious man, he never believed in ghosts, spirit, devil and Satan.
18. Because he did not believe in Satan, he went on to write a whole thesis that argued against the Holy Trinity doctrine of Church and against the Council of Nicaea. Newton however knew that he lived in a time when no one would accept his thesis and thus, kept it a secret. The thesis went into publication 37 years after his death.
19. Newton was actually secretive by all means. He did not only keep his aforementioned thesis secret but also kept many of this scientific and mathematical works secret. For instance, his work on optics in which he found that the white light is composed of a spectrum of colors, was completed by him in 1669 but he presented his finding only when he was elected as a fellow by British Royal Society in 1672.
20. Because of his secretive nature, some of his crucial work went in serious conflicts and disputes. For instance, Gottfried Leibniz, a German mathematician published his own work on calculus. Newton later claimed that he actually invented those methods way before Leibniz’s publication. Today it is accepted that Newton was the co-creator of calculus. The credit for inventing calculus is today shared by both Newton and Leibniz.
Sir Isaac Newton Facts: 21-25
21. Newton once became a politician and served for 1 complete year. In 1689 he became a Member of Parliament. However, during his one year tenure, during the long proceedings of the parliament, Newton spoke only one sentence. He actually asked an usher to close a drafty window that was open. [Michael White (1998) Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer]
22. Newton faced two nervous breakdowns. One was in 1678 when he was in the middle of a dispute regarding his optics theory and the other was in 1693. While Newton blames lack of sleep for the second breakdown, historians say that chemical poisoning was the primary reason and chronic psychological depression also led to this breakdown. The chemical poisoning was probably due to his alchemy practices, which Newton had every reason to keep hidden. It was after this second breakdown that his scientific research ended.
23. Newton was an extremely lonely man. This became evident because he easily picked up fights. Some people believe that he suffered from autism or perhaps bipolar disorder but there is actually no way to validate those claims.
24. In 1665 when the bubonic plague had hit Cambridge, Newton and all his classmates were sent back home to escape the plague. It was during those days that Newton invented Calculus.
25. Getting back to his obsession with Bible, it is worth mentioning that Newton went to the extent of learning Hebrew just because he wanted to find out the hidden meanings in Bible. He actually spent more than half his life hunting those hidden meanings rather than working on science.
This completes our list of 25 Sir Isaac Newton facts. You may well be wondering why we did not cover facts like his scientific achievement, his inventions etc. The only answer we have is that this list was dedicated to weird facts about Newton. We will cover those topics in a separate list.