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Isaac Newton Paperback – Jun 8 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 8 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400032954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400032952
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gleik's book is an engaging synthesis of top-notch sci-tech writing and biography. But it lacks the same thing another genre best-seller--Galileo's Daughter-- does, at least for me. It gives no perspective on what might be called the moral status of Newton's ideas in light of the subsequent centuries of philosophical inquiry and scientific investigation.
In recognizing Newton and Galileo as giants of science we should also understand them to be figures of enormous influence in the West's positivist, mechanistic, scientistic worldview. They each had a powerful moral impact on the West. It can be seen not only in positive scientific advances, but also in the worst excesses and errors of the scientific enterprise. A book that sheds light on this aspect of Galileo's genius and that I greatly enjoyed is Wade Rowland's Galileo's Mistake.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew E. on May 6 2006
Format: Paperback
If you want a book about the character of Isaac Newton, this is not the book for you. If you want a book about the scientific work of Newton, then this is the book for you. My intention was to lean about the personality of Newton; his childhood, eccentric behavior, social interactions, non scientific views. However, the book Isaac Newton was dominated by explanations of his theories and the history of the "shoulders" he stood upon. For someone more interested in the social sciences, this made for dull and thick writing which was hard to get through. The book did have interesting tid-bits about the man Newton; unfortunately they were few in number and seemed to be used as connectors between paragraphs explaining math and physics theories. I suppose if you were more interested in Newton's work than life this is a good book. But I was not so much interested in what brilliant works his mind produced as in what type of life produced his mind.
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By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
With almost poetic grace, Gleick portrays the life and thinking of history's most expansive mind. Works on Newton aren't as common as might be expected. The task of addressing such a monumental mentality is formidable, to say the least. Only the most ambitious or analytical could attempt it. Gleick's effort encompasses the major facets of Newton's life, including his academic, political and religious aspects. He avoids the modern approach of delving into Newton's psyche or recapitulating three centuries of scholarly disputation. Even the "falling apple" story is redrawn as Newton's realisation that apparent size compared with distance expressed a relationship needing explanation. The result is a clean, unobstructed view of a complex man - and his legacy.
From meagre beginnings Newton carved an expansive niche in European scholarship. His skills, noted early, brought him a Cambridge appointment at 27. Already showing great promise, he was a reluctant publisher. He sequestered himself in his rooms, later in a small cottage. He'd lived almost alone during his childhood, but his curiosity led him in many directions. The prism experiments, breaking sunlight with a prism, began his long career in what is now deemed "physics". Light's properties were the subject of great dispute, with Newton holding to emitted particles. Waves seemed to adhere to the Cartesian "vortices" which Newton found suspect. Playing with mirrors and lenses led to the reflecting telescope widely used today. Thinking about the heavenly bodies he observed led, of course, to his idea of gravitational attraction. Not a popular idea then, since such forces were disdained.
It's difficult to assess whether his delving into the facts of nature led to his personal isolation, or the reverse holds.
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Format: Hardcover
There were moments in this book, but overall I was left a bit disappointed by the author's lack of insight into the man himself. I have always held Newton in awe, and wondered what his IQ might have measured. Perhaps what I was looking for in this book was not the author's intent in focus. I've read many scientific books that detail the theories and history of Newton's contributions. In this book I hoped to find more of an inner glimpse into Newton's psyche. What it did reveal was disillusioning--Newton was apparently petty, jealous, and socially inept. For those who are looking for a biography, this doesn't cut the mustard. For those who are not already familiar with the scientific thought of the day and with Newton's accomplishments, this book will be much more satisfying.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book hard to follow in places, but because James Gleick places you so close to Isaac Newton, I found it impossible to give up reading it. According to other reviews, the struggles between Newton and the philosophy of Descartes, and the personality of Hooke, and the possible plagarism of Leibnitz, are not new or unknown. They were to me. Another thing that I didn't understand about the times that Newton lived in was how his society and culture was so steeped in mysticism and the occult. Newton set his philosophy apart from the rest by strictly defining all of the terms that he used. So, while religions and other faith philosophies thrive on the dishonesty of wordplay, science, as defined by Newton's approach, rules the day.
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By A Customer on March 22 2004
Format: Hardcover
Despite its title, this slim volume is no biography. While interestng and well-written, it is really an extended profile, with nearly a third of the book consisting of notes and acknowledgements (in a format no magazine would likely publish). At its listed price, it is no value.
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