Book of the week: Newton's Apple

25th July 2003 at 01:00
Newton's Apple: Isaac Newton and the English Scientific Renaissance
By Peter Aughton
Weidenfeld amp; Nicolson pound;20

Isaac Newton's life was like a football match - a thing of two halves. He was a lonely child, absorbed in building working models of mills and clocks out of scraps of wood. When he was 16, his mother gave him responsibility for the family farm, but his vagueness and gullibility proved incorrigible and she hastened to send him to the local university instead.

At Cambridge, his talents were quickly noted, and in 1667, aged 26, he was appointed Lucasian professor of mathematics. Four years later, he was elected to the Royal Society on the strength of his small but powerful reflecting telescope. By this time, his dreaminess had deepened into sociophobia: he would keep to his lodgings at Trinity for weeks on end, so absorbed in his papers and experiments that he had to be reminded to eat and sleep.

In 1684 he was persuaded to outline his main ideas for the benefit of posterity, and within 18 months completed his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy).

Jonathan Ree is a freelance writer and philosopher; his books include Philosophical Takes and I See a Voice (Owl Books)

Also covered in this week's book reviews - Teenage fiction

The Divide
By Elizabeth Kay
Chicken House pound;11.99

Doctor Illuminatus
By Martin Booth
Puffin pound;4.99

Artemis Fowl: the eternity code
By Eoin Colfer
Penguin hardback pound;12.99

The Illmoor Chronicles: The Paternoster catastrophe
By David Lee Stone
Hodder pound;10.99nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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