by Gale Christianson
Book list Gr. 8^-12. Christianson, a distinguished professor who has written extensively on Newton and his times, makes few concessions to the lay reader in this biography in the Oxford Portraits in Science series. Those who know some physics will find the science fascinating, but the technical explanations aren't easy: just what did that falling apple show Newton about gravity? How did he come to his theory of the calculus? What are the connections with Einstein's work on relativity and quantum mechanics? However, all readers will enjoy the personal life story, and they will feel the excitement of Newton's discoveries of the laws that govern an orderly and knowable universe. Far from reverential, Christianson shows us a genius who could be treacherous, revengeful, and arrogant: "Time itself must stand still for Isaac Newton; after all, he was one of the Lord's anointed." Bibliography; chronology; many contemporary prints and diagrams. --Hazel Rochman
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 8 Up?This is not just a great biography?it's one of the best-written science books around for young people. Christianson has sifted through the historical documents and accounts of Newton to paint a convincing and intelligent picture of the complex and at times irascible genius. Even more remarkable, the biographical portrait he presents is a compelling story. It begins with a beheading?that of Charles I?and ends with the poetic image of visitors to Newton's gravesite pausing "in silent tribute to the sacred permanence of the dead." The author demonstrates a remarkable sense of Newton and his times. For example, while many other biographers struggle to explain his experiments in alchemy, Christianson puts them in context of the great scientist trying to unravel the mysteries of the atomic world with the best tools available to him. The narrative also shows how Newton changed as he grew older: from a young, intense, reclusive academic to a living legend justifiably vain about his reputation. Reproductions of documents, Newton's sketches, and paintings of well-known figures illustrate this fine book.?Alan Newman, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC
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