Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was a great mathematician and scientist. He was one of the most learned men and one of the greatest thinkers the world has ever seen.
He was born in the year 1642, at a small town in Lincolnshire, in England, called Woolsthorpe, and became Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge in 1669. He brought out his famous book, the Principia, in 1687. In 1699 he was made Master of the Mint (where English coins are made) in London and was elected President of the Royal Society in 1703. In the year 1705, he was made a Knight by Queen Anne. He died in 1727, at the age of eighty-five.
Sir Isaac Newton is best known as the discoverer of the law of gravitation. The story is that what started him thinking on this subject was the fall of an apple in his garden at Woolsthorpe in the year 1666. He had seen apples fall from the trees many times before, and millions of people had seen the same thing and thought nothing about it. But just at that time he was studying the movements of stars and trying to find out why they travelled in the sky in the way they did. And the sight of an apple falling to the ground from a tree set his mind working in the right direction and led him to explain the movements of the moon round the earth, and of the earth and the other planets round the sun.
Besides this he found out that the white light of the sun is made up of seven colours, which we see in a rainbow; and he made many other great discoveries.
Though he was such a learned man, he was very humble: and a little before his death he said: “I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” He was humble because, though he knew so much, his great learning showed him how much there was to be known.