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On this day in 1727: Sir Isaac Newton, scientific genius and 'last of the magicians', dies

Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was born at Woolsthorpe in Lincolnshire on 4 January 1643. His father died three months before his birth, and when he was two his mother remarried a minister who separated her from Isaac for nine years. In later life he showed marked psychotic tendencies, and the circumstances of his childhood are a likely cause. 

He entered Cambridge University in 1661, finding an institution still stuck in the past, focusing on an Aristotelean geocentric universe despite the many works appearing to refute it. He came under the influence of the more modern mechanical philosophers and also the older Hermetic tradition, which sought explanations in alchemy and magic. While an undergraduate, he filled his notebooks with extensive private learning, becoming especially accomplished in mathematics.  

In 1667 he was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was rapidly advanced...

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