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Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer

Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer [Kindle Edition]

Michael White
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

First time in ebook format, this biography of Isaac Newton reveals the extraordinary influence that the study of alchemy had on the greatest Early Modern scientific discoveries. In this ‘ground breaking biography’ Michael White destroys the myths of the life of Isaac Newton and reveals a portrait of the scientist as the last sorcerer.

According to traditional accounts, Newton was the first modern scientist . As creator of the theory of gravity, calculus, modern theories of light and devisor of the three laws of mechanics, his methods are perceived as the genesis of modern science. Yet the traditional version of his life fails to tell, by some considerable margin, the full story. How for example could Newton’s apparent empiricism be married with his interest in alchemy and magic? What had inspired him in his discoveries? How did he reconcile his scientific discoveries with his religious faith? And, most of all, who was this man who, historians tell us, remained a virgin all his life and who seemed to be an argumentative ego maniac on the one hand and a kindly old man on the other?

In this revelatory biography, White paints an original picture of Isaac Newton completely at variance with the traditional portrait.

About the Author

Michael White was a science lecturer before becoming a full-time writer and journalist. He is the author with John Gribbin of the bestselling Stephen Hawking – A Lifetime in Science. He is a regular contributor to the Sunday Times, the Observer,the Daily Telegraph, GQ, Focus and New Scientist.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 879 KB
  • Print Length: 427 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 185702706X
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (20 Feb 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00760GBHI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #145,519 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sorcerer ? Alchemist ? Physicist? Lunatic! 1 Oct 2000
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Approaching this subject with a preconception of Newton on a pedestal as a demi-god, I felt both let-down and uplifted...
Let-down by Newton, because the book gives such an insight into the devious, underhand methods he used and how he would ride rough-shod over anyone in the way of his ideas.... Also, I fail to understand how such an intelligent man could swallow all the Alchemical drivel of the time - thousands of years of experimentation and still nobody discovered the Philosopher's Stone... that should have rung a warning bell!
Uplifted, because Mr White never lets you become bogged-down in the details of the subject - he injects another perspective at the right moment, letting you see that our 'demi-god' is as fallible as the rest of us. Also enlightening was the fact that Newton was 'in charge' of the Royal Mint at its most crucial point in history.... without his intervention, the British economy could have slid into irrecoverable bankruptcy.
Early on we get a glimpse of Newton's leanings (both emotionally and experimentally) and this is elaborated on to give a rounded profile of the man. Given all the pies he had a finger in; the challenges he set himself; and the physical and emotional deprivations he went through, it's surprising that he didn't end up totally insane. We see him on the brink of it, throwing all his principles out of the window, back-stabbing his 'colleagues' and alienating himself by his strange behaviour.
A damned good read.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for the mathematically baffled 11 Jun 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've always been interested in how magic and alchemy was perceived and practised in medieval and Renaissance Europe, and was slightly weary of ordering this biography, terrified of the potential countless incomprehensible equations inside the book - luckily for me, there were none, and even the scientific aspects of gravity weren't given much coverage. So if, like me, you're interested in Newton's life, rather than his theories and what they all mean, you will certainly enjoy this biography. It focuses more on his time at Cambridge and his relationships with various people rather than dwelling on the physics, so for someone who doesn't really "get" the technical side of things, this was truly a breeze :) 4 stars instead of 5 because I thought more space would be given to Newton as alchemist, as the title suggests, but a lot of the 'sorcery' was simply in passing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Roger
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In my opinion, Michael White has written an excellent, well researched biography of one of our greatest scientists. He explains in detail how Isaac Newton had a troubled childhood and how this may have adversely affected his personality in later life, leading him to be very secretive, trusting few people and disliking criticism, and resulting in him being reticent to publish his theories. His Principia, for example, was twenty years in the making and when it was published it was in Latin and deliberately written in a way to ensure very few people would be able to understand it.

White also does a good job of explaining the bleak atmosphere at Cambridge University in the 17th century, and the workings and politics of the Royal Society, then in its infancy. Both institutions were very different then to how they are in the 21st century.

As the title of the book suggests, White places much emphasis on Newton's alchemy endeavours, and how Newton saw alchemy as a way of explaining nature and the universe, and providing an insight into the mind of God. To Newton, and to many others of the period, alchemy meant a lot more than transmuting base metals into gold, or finding the elixir of life. Newton was not alone in believing that ancient civilisations had a much fuller understanding of nature, the universe and God and that these revelations had been lost in the mists of time but could be re-discovered through the ancient art of alchemy and by studying the bible. White explains all of this very clearly. Newton carried out an enormous number of alchemical investigations to try to unlock the meaning of life, as well as undertaking detailed analyses of the bible for similar purposes.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Although I can not put a finger on any single fault, I found this book a very bland biography of Newton and for me added nothing to what I already knew of the great man (which wasn't much more than you can find in A-level physics texts). In the title I was expecting a little more on the alchemical persuits of Newton, however, little is really added to his life story that has not already been published many times elsewhere in a more erudite and concise form. There is nothing particularly wrong with the writing, although it is a little long winded in places, but it just didn’t engage me in a way I expected the biography of whom I personally rate as the greatest scientist in history.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Isaac Newton - A Fascinating Genius 24 May 2003
This is one of the most interesting biographies I've read. As well as outlining Isaac Newton's outstanding contributions to science, the book also give a revealing insight into the character of Isaac Newton, which can only be described as eye-opening!! On the down side, the book tends to dwell on the negative aspects of Newton's character, rather than presenting a well rounded account of what he may have been like, but it is still a good read for anyone interested in science and its history.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read
Published 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Legendary human
Michael White has written a very entertaining, well documented and researched story about the late great-greater-greatest Sir Isaac Newton. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Koos
3.0 out of 5 stars Thesis failed
The original idea of this book (so it claims) is that Newton's success in Mathematics and Mechanics was BECAUSE of his Alchemical researches. The thesis is not made. Read more
Published 10 months ago by W. Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating
it was captivating from the first to the last page. i know nothing of science, but the book made it very easy to understand. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Henry de Hoon
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative
The biography gives an entertaining and informative account of Newton's life through the lens of his life long obsession with alchemy and his deeply held Arian religious beliefs. Read more
Published 15 months ago by MrRivendale
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I enjoyed this book - a thought provoking read about one of the greatest minds mankind has produced. Recommended reading.
Published 16 months ago by GSC
3.0 out of 5 stars Newton Biography
An interesting account of Isaac newton's life, but with a lot of emphasis on alchemy. This detracted slightly from the main account.
Published 17 months ago by M Chapman
4.0 out of 5 stars Issac Newton - the fascination of a Man and God
A brilliant insight into a fascinating man. The author seems fair and balanced, not taking definitive stances on the various issues of man-genius, sorcerer-scientist, or... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Avatar Gyatso
3.0 out of 5 stars The best biography of Newton I’ve read to date
I've read other biographies of Sir Isaac Newton, and this is the best. As the title suggests, there is an emphasis on his interest in Alchemy. Read more
Published on 31 Dec 2003 by Keith Appleyard
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and eye opening
I have read this book and found it both fascinating and a real eye opener. Newton's interest in alchemy had been kept quiet by many people, as had details of his life away from... Read more
Published on 8 April 2003 by "flambards3"
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