Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton was born in England in 1642 or 1643, depending on your calendar.  His family tried to make him the best farmer he could be, but his head wasn’t in it.  He went to school, came up with a list of mathematical concepts that needed inventing, and went to it.

Newton hated Gottfried Leibniz over a bunch of numbers, and Leibniz hated him right back.  They both wanted credit for calculus, having both invented it at the same time.  Their egos were so big, they couldn’t stand for a tie until centuries after they’d both died.

Why Newton was so obsessed over the calculus issue, I don’t know, as he had a thousand other achievements to his name.  In addition to the math, he reconciled astronomical and earthbound physics, got the idea of universal gravitation from watching a falling apple, and built the first practical reflecting telescope.  He became Master of the Royal Mint and settled the country on the gold standard in his spare time.

Newton was deeply religious, as well, but rejected the Christian Trinity as a blasphemy against the monotheistic “watchmaker” God that he believed designed all the parts and movements of the universe.  He still believed in miracles, because how else was God going to wind His watch?  Newton dodged every religious obligation he had as a man of his era, a stance which came to be called “Natural Religion”.  He just didn’t have the time.

After Newton died in his sleep at eighty-four, examinations showed that he had mercury poisoning, probably from dabbling a bit too much into alchemy.  There’s such a thing as over-extending yourself, and poisoning yourself in an attempt to turn lead into gold is probably one those lines.

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