Issac Newton by James Gleick
Gleick also describes the staggering accomplisments that Newton achieved: foundation work on light and optics; glass and telescopes; calculus and, of course, gravity. To think of someone inventing the notion of infinite series to solve problems as well as being the first to usefully describe and specify what we call “gravity” is truly impressive. I was also surprised to learn that Newton predicted the Earth was oblate in shape and not perfectly circular because of the rotation (this is in fact true). Considering most people don’t know this now and he was able to figure this out in the late 1600s is one more indication of his immense powers of reasoning. Newton, despite his theological leanings, was also the person who pushed the concept of having experiments and data to justify belief as mere opinion was not sufficient.
Newton’s intermittently nasty personality is also explored, like when he attempted to defend his discovery of calculus by discrediting Leibnitz. The Royal Society released an anonymous report indicating that Leibnitz could not be trusted on a whole range of issues, chief among them his claim to the calculus. Further, an anonymous review of this report said additional words of condemnation. Both the report AND the review were by Newton. Sneaky Issac! Apparently, if you want your name preserved in history, make sure to kick everyone else down.
Issac Newton is a good book that describes an obsessive man that barely travelled and never knew a woman but revolutionized mathematics and physics such that we are still using his work as a foundation for understanding the world (ever use the words inertia, momentum, or gravity?).
If we have seen further, it is because we are standing on the shoulders of Newton.