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e: The Story of a Number by Eli Maor

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8

The Birth of a New Science

[Newton’s] peculiar gift was the power of holding conitnuously in his mind a purely mental problem until he had seen through it.—JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES

Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire, England, on Christmas Day (by the Julian calendar) 1642, the year of Galileo’s death. There is a symbolism in this coincidence, for half a century earlier Galileo had laid the foundations of mechanics on which Newton would erect his grand mathematical description of the universe. Never has the biblical verse, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever” (Ecclesiastes 1:4), been more prophetically fulfilled.1

Newton’s early childhood was marked by family misfortunes. ...

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