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 ofeighteen Newton entered Cambridge University where he became one of the best students.
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 room again.
Many stories are told about Newton's absent-mindedness. Here is one of them.
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.