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The Resource Isaac Newton, James Gleick

Isaac Newton, James Gleick

Label
Isaac Newton
Title
Isaac Newton
Statement of responsibility
James Gleick
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Writing style
Award
New York Times Notable Book, 2003
Review
  • Gleick's most renowned writing falls into one of two categories: vivid character studies or broad syntheses of scientific trends. Here, he fuses the two genres with a biography of the man who was emblematic of a new scientific paradigm, but this short study falls a bit short on both counts. The author aims to "ground this book as wholly as possible in its time; in the texts," and his narrative relies heavily on direct quotations from Newton's papers, extensively documented with more than 60 pages of notes. While his attention to historical detail is impressive, Gleick's narrative aims somewhere between academic and popular history, and his take on Newton feels a bit at arms-length, only matching the vibrancy of his Feynman biography at moments (particularly when describing Newton's disputes with such competitors as Robert Hooke or Leibniz). As might be expected, Gleick's descriptions of Newton's scientific breakthroughs are clear and engaging, and his book is strongest when discussing the shift to a mathematical view of the world that Newton championed. In the end, this is a perfectly serviceable overview of Newton's life and work, and will bring this chapter in the history of science to a broader audience, but it lacks the depth one hopes for from a writer of Gleick's abilities. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (May 16) Forecast: Despite the book's flaws, its brevity and Gleick's reputation may make this the perfect intro to Newton for readers new to him or to science. It could generate good sales. --Staff (Reviewed March 31, 2003) (Publishers Weekly, vol 250, issue 13, p53)
  • /* Starred Review */ The author of Genius , the acclaimed biography of Richard Feynman, Gleick has produced a very accessible, well-researched, and enjoyable portrait of Isaac Newton. Writing for general readers, he tones down the inevitable mathematics to a manageable level, presenting his subject in his scientific glory and in his less well known roles of heretic, alchemist, and recluse; he also reveals how Newton's mathematical ideas were instrumental in creating what we now call the scientific worldview. If your collection needs a more scholarly and in-depth work on Newton, you should also consider Richard Westfall's The Life of Isaac Newton and Patricia Fara's Newton: The Making of a Genius . For a good look at Newton's alchemical and mystical side, see Michael White's Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer . With extensive notes and a bibliography, Gleick's latest work is highly recommended for public and general collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]—Eric D. Albright, Tufts Univ. Health Science Lib., Boston --Eric D. Albright (Reviewed May 1, 2003) (Library Journal, vol 128, issue 8, p151)
  • Science author and journalist Gleick (Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, 1999, etc.) traces with equal measures of irony and sympathy the life of an Enlightenment icon as notable for misery, backbiting, paranoia, deceit, and greed as brilliance. Fatherless, left in the care of his grandparents for eight years, young Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was so maladjusted that he threatened to torch the house of his mother and stepfather with them inside. His schoolmaster and uncle rescued him from life on the farm by getting him admitted to Trinity College at Cambridge. In 1666, when the college was stricken by plague, he returned home and embarked on his landmark mathematical studies. Yet his magnum opus, Principia (1687), came only after years of half-hints to scientific colleagues and controversies over plagiarism. Gleick spends much effort elaborating how Newton followed up on imperfectly intuited hypotheses by Galileo and Descartes to derive laws related to gravitation, inertia, planetary motion, and optics. But inevitably the focus shifts to how this loveless, largely friendless man tried to peer into the heart of the world's mysteries. Unable to purge "occult, hidden, mystical qualities from his vision of nature," the scientist's research encompassed not just mathematics but also two more disreputable covert enterprises: alchemy and unorthodox scriptural interpretation. Newton evinced "implacable ruthlessness" toward scientists Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens, John Flamsteed, and Gottfried Leibniz. Hair and clothing askew, he scratched diagrams with his stick in the walkways of Trinity and, as the half-century mark approached, experienced a nervous breakdown. In his last three decades, he grew rich as the college's Warden and later Master of the Mint. For all his faults, Gleick notes, Newton's legacy is clear: "He bequeathed to science, that institution in its throes of birth, a research program, practical and open-ended." Engaging, concise biography of a monumental visionary and eccentric whose life was as remarkable as the universe he struggled to understand. (16 b&w illustrations) (Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003)
Biography type
individual biography
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
158613
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Gleick, James
Dewey number
  • 530/.092
  • B
Illustrations
  • illustrations
  • portraits
Index
index present
LC call number
QC16.N7
LC item number
G55 2003
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Newton, Isaac
  • Physicists
Target audience
adult
Label
Isaac Newton, James Gleick
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 241-258) and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
21 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
xii, 272 pages
Isbn
9780375422331
Lccn
2002192696
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, color portrait
System control number
50859124
Label
Isaac Newton, James Gleick
Publication
Copyright
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages 241-258) and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
21 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
xii, 272 pages
Isbn
9780375422331
Lccn
2002192696
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, color portrait
System control number
50859124

Library Locations

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      37.377573 -76.770995
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