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Isaac Newton por James Gleick
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Isaac Newton (original 2003; edición 2004)

por James Gleick (Autor)

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James Gleick has long been fascinated by the making of science -- how ideas order visible appearances, how equations can give meaning to molecular and stellar phenomena, how theories can transform what we see. In Chaos, he chronicled the emergence of a new way of looking at dynamic systems; in Genius, he portrayed the wondrous dimensions of Richard Feymnan's mind. Now, in Isaac Newton, he gives us the story of the scientist who, above all others, embodied humanity's quest to unveil the hidden forces that constitute the physical world. In this original, sweeping, and intimate biography, Gleick moves between a comprehensive historical portrait and a dramatic focus on Newton's significant letters and unpublished notebooks to illuminate the real importance of his work in physics, in optics, and in calculus. He makes us see the old intuitive, alchemical universe out of which Newton's mathematics first arose and shows us how Newton's ideas have altered all forms of understanding from history to philosophy. And he gives us a moving account of the conflicting impulses that pulled at this man's heart: his quiet longings, his rage, his secrecy, the extraordinary subtleties of a personality that were mirrored in the invisible forces he first identified as the building blocks of science. More than biography, more than history, more than science, Isaac Newton tells us how, through the mind of one man, we have come to know our place in the cosmos. Read by Allan Couruner.… (más)
Miembro:berezovskyi
Título:Isaac Newton
Autores:James Gleick (Autor)
Info:Vintage (2004), 272 pages
Colecciones:Goodreads, Tu biblioteca
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Etiquetas:to-read

Detalles de la obra

Isaac Newton : la mente que cambió la historia de la ciencia por James Gleick (2003)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 37 (siguiente | mostrar todos)
This s a very brief biography of Isaac Newton. It's a good starting point for understanding Newton, with a broad overview of his life, how and when he made his major discoveries and theories, and his impact on science. However, it doesn't go into great detail about any of these topics because it's a very short book, and it left me wanting more.

Gleick provides basic details about Newton's life: where he grew up, the trajectory of his career, when and how he formulated his theories and discoveries, and a little bit about his difficult personality, but these details are fairly scant.

Gleick is known for writing about science, so it's not surprising that he focuses a lot on Newton's theories of optics, his discovery of calculus, his disputes with Hooke and Leibnitz, and the impact of his work. I think he could have gone into even more depth here, especially in analyzing how quickly or slowly contemporaries adopted his ideas.

The book glosses over Newton's interest in alchemy, and completely skips his prophetical writings, so this seems like an incomplete portrait. There also isn't much analysis of how Newton's place in science has shifted over the centuries.

All in all, this is a decent starting place, but really left me wanting more information about a lot of topics. ( )
  Gwendydd | Feb 6, 2021 |
Rare is the book that leaves the reader wanting more. But that is precisely how I feel upon finishing Gleick's Newton. Several chapters (5, 6, 8, 9, 10) are less than ten pages! While there are several endnotes (unfortunately not footnotes) and a nice bibliography, the book is not at all professional or academic but rather is a very good example of popular science writing.

I'm no authority on Newton--in fact I'm reading a few books to brush up on him--but I have a hard time believing Gleick's assertion that Newton "probably never set eyes on the ocean" (p. 3). Newton in 1687 provided an explanation of the forces that cause ocean tides. It is difficult to imagine that the man who first made this explanation--and who when he lived in London was just 40 miles from the ocean--had never seen it. This seems to be a bit of heavy-handedness as Gleick attempts to portray Newton as an insular figure in the opening pages. There are truths to this generalization (born in obscurity; entered Cambridge as a subsizar; was reclusive for long periods), but to make a statement with no corroborating evidence seems far-fetched. ( )
  RAD66 | Nov 12, 2020 |
Newton is not much less of a cypher to me after reading this than he was before, which is unfortunate, because what I really wanted was insight into his character. I'm left with the impression of a man with a big, fragile ego, much less a scientist in the modern sense than I expected because of his reluctance to publish his results, despite his obvious genius, which has come to shape our modern world philosophically and technologically.

I don't know if Gleick chose not to focus on character or if there isn't much evidence, but if you want the bare facts of Newton's life and what he acheived, then this book will give you them in a compact, digestible form. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Sir Isaac Newton ranks among history's greatest geniuses. For inventing modern physics. For overturning Aristotle's hegemony upon thought. For co-inventing calculus (as an introduction to physics). For being more into theology and alchemy than physics.

His treasure-trove of personal writings - kept hidden until near the middle of the twentieth century - show this man to be, like Luther before him, the last of the great medievalists who birthed the movement of modernity. With Newton came the Industrial Revolution and a rigid system that Einsteinianism had to loosen. He obsessed over thought after thought, most based on alchemy and Arian/Gnostic theology (not orthodox Trinitarianism), until modern physics was birthed, and with it a deductive mechanism from first "principles."

He was born the son of an illiterate father whom he never knew. He seemed destined to become a farmer, but instead, privately reckoned physics into being at Cambridge. He never married. He was haunted by lust. He became rich by overseeing the conversion of Britain's Mint. He left no will, was close to none, was a recluse, and wrote brilliantly.

He was a magician, an alchemist, and a heretical theologian. He dabbled in unreason to give birth to reason. He later became an authoritarian over scientific thought. He feuded with Leibnitz, a feud which in some senses persists to this day. (They both are right in their claims, and humanity is the big loser of the argument. They should be seen as independent co-founders of calculus.)

His Principia removed Aristotle's impulsivity and set gravity as the central cause of all of motion. He derived calculus to explain its movement in a universal language. He made mathematics the foundational language of humanity.

It wasn't until Einstein that science returned to solving problems as its fundamental method. Even Darwin proposed a universal system, not a solution. With Einstein, relativity (which was the popular version of the physical laws Einstein proposed, much as mechanism was the popular import of Newtonianism) became in imbibed by Western consciousness. Now, scientists see things through a team spirit relative to one's position in work. Few claim to be systemic masters any longer, as if there were a system to master in the first place.

The rigid system of Newtonianism stays with us on the outskirts. Every time someone exerts a will to claim overarching knowledge (which is, in Newton's world, power), they claim Newton's authoritarian dark side. Trump, old-school Calvinism, old-school capitalism, moralism. There is right and wrong for Newton. Again, it took an Einstein to relativize everything.

I think the real Isaac Newton would have liked to know that sage of Princeton Albert Einstein. It's unfortunate that I also dream that Newton would have found much reason to argue with him, much as Newton privately argued with Leibnitz in his own day and Einstein argued with Quantum Mechanics for the second-half of his life. At least Newton was private in his argumentation. He preferred not to argue publicly. That's a character trait we can all learn from, especially in a post-Newtonian, post-Einsteinian world.
( )
  scottjpearson | Jan 25, 2020 |
Isaac Newton was one of the most important scientists in history, almost single-handedly dragging civilisation away from pure superstition, or at least idle conjecture, and emphasising the importance of mathematical rigour and experimentation. He lived in incredibly turbulent times, with the civil war and puritanical non-royalist period of English history happening throughout his youth, and the main religion switching back and forth between Anglicanism and Catholicism. There was a thirst for exploration and progress here, which Newton was a part of - and with his dogged determination to solve scientific mysteries and his incredible intellect, he made monumental progress in solving many of physics' fundamental puzzles. Yet he reflected the religious and barely scientific culture he lived in, by adhering to his own version of Christianity, practising alchemy obsessively and speculating at times rather more wildly than he should.

Gleick has a very difficult task to capture a secretive person, who lived so long ago. It is therefore difficult to blame him entirely for what I feel is a rather flawed biography. The biography is rather slim, and almost feels rushed at times. It constantly seems as if Gleick is skimming the surface of a life, rather than giving us its depths. This isn't helped by a slightly old-fashioned style, focusing heavily on quotes and the incidental poems and other little nuggets of text by contemporaries, some of whom don't seem all that relevant. Very rarely does he commit to giving his own opinion on contentious issues, such as who came up with the main components of the theory of gravity (Hooke definitely had some original ideas). I would have very much appreciated Gleick to stick his neck out here, rather than hint at conclusions.

Gleick's capturing of Newton's science is also unsatisfying - it almost seems as if within a few months almost all component's of Newton's Principia turn up as if by magic, rather than accumulating piece by piece over many years. I was fascinated to learn of Newton's speculations on fields and other modern concepts at the end of the book. But such speculations were earlier levelled at Hooke for not developing his ideas further, so it was difficult to know exactly how much to read into this. Also fascinating were just how many puzzles Newton had no clue about, but urged the community on as questions, hoping someone else would eventually find solutions. It's almost as if this framing of important questions is another key component of the scientific method, which Newton understood all too well, and also understood just how little he knew after his long life.

But it was Newton's personal life and character that I wanted to know the most about, but felt even more of a fog within the words of this book. Was he at all homosexual? What was his relationship exactly to his niece who lived with him for many years? Did he ever slip seriously into mental illness or even paranoid delusions? What exactly was Newton like as a person? It's clear that in the first half of his life he was largely a loner. But later on he seemed to take the opposite direction, being very social, attending most Royal Society meetings, collecting the finer things in life, along with a vast fortune. Did he have close friends then? How did they view him? Surely some of this can be inferred from his letters? Or at least speculated on by someone who is far more of an expert than the readers. I only ever felt I had the merest glimpses to some of these questions in this biography.

As if to confirm my constant impression that this novel was rushed, it just ends by saying he left no will. Okay why? And where did his fortune go to then? Surely there are answers to these questions. Well, not in this book. I therefore hope and will look for a more thorough authoritative, even opinionated biography of Newton, if it exists. ( )
  RachDan | Jan 2, 2018 |
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Jag frågade honom vat någonstans han låtit göra den, och han svarade att han gjort den själv, och när jag frågade honom var han anskaffade sina verktyg, sade han att han tillverkade dem själv och tillade skrattande: om jag väntat på att andra skulle göra mina verktyg och annat åt mig, då skulle jag aldrig fått något gjort...
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Isaac Newton sade att han hade slådat längre genom att stå på jättens axlar, men utan att själv tro på det.
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James Gleick has long been fascinated by the making of science -- how ideas order visible appearances, how equations can give meaning to molecular and stellar phenomena, how theories can transform what we see. In Chaos, he chronicled the emergence of a new way of looking at dynamic systems; in Genius, he portrayed the wondrous dimensions of Richard Feymnan's mind. Now, in Isaac Newton, he gives us the story of the scientist who, above all others, embodied humanity's quest to unveil the hidden forces that constitute the physical world. In this original, sweeping, and intimate biography, Gleick moves between a comprehensive historical portrait and a dramatic focus on Newton's significant letters and unpublished notebooks to illuminate the real importance of his work in physics, in optics, and in calculus. He makes us see the old intuitive, alchemical universe out of which Newton's mathematics first arose and shows us how Newton's ideas have altered all forms of understanding from history to philosophy. And he gives us a moving account of the conflicting impulses that pulled at this man's heart: his quiet longings, his rage, his secrecy, the extraordinary subtleties of a personality that were mirrored in the invisible forces he first identified as the building blocks of science. More than biography, more than history, more than science, Isaac Newton tells us how, through the mind of one man, we have come to know our place in the cosmos. Read by Allan Couruner.

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