One of the world’s greatest scientists, Isaac Newton,
formulated the law of gravity, discovered why the prism breaks up
sunlight into colours and invented the reflecting telescope. It was he
who said that light is a combination of rays different in size and
colour, and that white light is a mixture of all these.
It is interesting to note that the great English scientist was born in
the same year when another great scientist, Galileo, died. His parents
had a small farm in Lincolnshire. It was a very lonely place where there
were no schools. At the age of twelve Isaac was sent to the small town
of Grantham to attend Grammar school. At first he didn’t take a great
interest in his lessons at school and very often was one of the worst
pupils in his class. But one day, on his way to school, his schoolmate
gave him a kick in the stomach. So Newton had to fight with his
offender. Newton won but was not satisfied with his physical victory and
decided to study better than his opponent. He began to work hard at his
lessons and soon became one of the best pupils at school.
Newton never joined the games of his classmates, but spent a lot of time
constructing models. He made an excellent working model of a windmill
which was not far from his school. Among other things that he made was a
water clock. Newton’s clock became very popular, and his neighbours
often came to see what time it was.
Newton showed his schoolmates how to make paper kites. He also made
paper lanterns to hold candles. Knowing that his neighbours were afraid
of comets, Newton tied one of his lanterns to the tail of a kite and
flew the kite up into the air on a dark winter night. His neighbours
were greatly frightened.
When Isaac was fourteen, bis mother insisted on his returning home for
working on the farm. But he was a bad worker. He preferred reading books
to any kind of work. When his mother sent him to the fields to watch the
sheep, he used to sit down under a tree with a book or make a model of
something paying no attention to the wandering sheep. On each market day
Isaac had to go to Grantham with his old servant. But it was very
difficult for the servant to teach Isaac something about marketing
because very often he couldn’t even make him reach the town. The servant
had to leave the boy under a tree by the road with some book, and
returning home he found Isaac still reading the book.
Having realized the strong wish of her son to study, Isaac’s mother sent
him to Grantham again to be prepared for college. And at the age of
eighteen Newton entered Cambridge University where he became one of the
Young Isaac Newton was dozing peacefully under an apple tree in his
garden. The sun was shining and the grass was like an expensive green
carpet under his feet. How pleasant it was to forget the terrible plague
that had ravaged London. The University was closed. The young student
was half asleep. Suddenly a ripe red apple fell down on his head. He
woke up and rubbed his head for a moment. Then he picked up the apple
which had struck him.
Anyone else would have been angry or would, perhaps, have laughed. But
he looked at the apple and asked himself: «Why has the apple fallen
down? Why hasn’t it fallen up instead? I know that the earth has the
attraction for things and that its attraction is called gravity. But
why, no matter how high a thing is, does it still fall to the ground?
Could this great attraction of the earth reach far out into the heavens?
Could it reach up to the moon? If so, then the moon is subjected to the
same laws of gravity that has made the apple fall down. Perhaps, the
only thing that makes the moon turn around the earth is this great force
of gravity! And if so, then the planets, the stars, even the universe
itself, may be bound by this force!»
He devoted most part of his life to the determination of the laws that
rule the universe. He was one of the greatest minds of his time. But the
law of gravity is his main discovery.
Newton was so absorbed in his studies that he was often very
absent-minded. He considered it a waste of time to eat and sleep. When
sometimes he decided to have dinner in the hall of the college, he would
turn to the left instead of turning to the right and would go into the
street. When he found out that he had made a mistake, he would stop,
turn back and then instead of going to the hall he would return to his
Many stories are told about Newton’s absent-mindedness. Here is one of
One of his friends came to see Newton who was as usual absorbed in his
problems. The visitor waited thinking that Newton would not be long as
his dinner was already on the table. After having waited a long time,
the visitor became hungry and ate the dinner prepared for Newton. At
last Newton came in, greeted his friend and sat down at the dinner
table. Finding nothing but the bone on the plate, Newton said he quite
forgot that he had already eaten his dinner.