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Review - Isaac Newton, The Last Sorcerer  - Michael White

 

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There are few scientists in history as well known as Isaac Newton. Not only did he put in place the laws of motion that would remain central to physical and mechanical development, he described the action of gravity, explained how white light was made up of a spectrum of colours, devised calculus, invented one of the best known forms of telescope and much more.

This book appears to give excellent insights into Newton's early life and the personality that drove him to produce such amazing work. However, it goes a little over the top in its assessment of how important alchemy was to Newton (there's no doubt he had an interest, but perhaps not such a burning one as this book suggests), giving a slant that perhaps owes more to the author that the great man.

Even so, you will certainly see a lot of Newton's personality, from mishandled youngster to evilly combative adult, coming through. If you find this interesting, check out Light Years, which puts his ideas on light into the context of the wider development of the understanding of light.

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Reviewed by Brian Clegg

 

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Last update 05 June 2007