Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Newton's Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World [Hardcover]

David Berlinski
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover --  
Hardcover, 1 Oct 2000 --  
Paperback 9.01  

Book Description

1 Oct 2000
Sir Isaac Newton is among the giants of the scientific era. It was Newton who conceived the imperial vision of mathematical physics and Newton again who created the first and perhaps the greatest of scientific theories. Physicists searching for the elusive final theory that will conclusively explain matter in all of its manifestations are his heirs. Yet for all that, Newton has remained inaccessible to most modern readers, and even to many scientists, indisputably great but indisputably remote. In this witty, engaging, and often moving examination of Newton's life, David Berlinski recovers the man behind the mathematical breakthroughs. The story carries the reader from Newton's unremarkable childhood to his awkward undergraduate days at Cambridge and then to the astonishing year in which, working alone, he laid the foundation for his system of the world. Thereafter, Berlinski describes the creation of Newton's masterpiece, the "Principia Mathematica," the monumental feuds that poisoned his soul and that wearied his supporters, and Newton's final re-creation of himself as the master of England's financial system. This is less an exhaustive biography than an appreciation of Newton's greatest accomplishment. When he brought together years of work and towering logic into his "system of the world," Newton projected just one human mind to the outermost stars and planets. At once, he forever redefined the meaning of "nature," and of man's place in the cosmos. This seminal creative act has proved more powerful than that of any politician or king and more long-lasting than any dynasty. "Newton's Gift" is an edifying celebration of a transcendent man.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (1 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684843927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684843926
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 14.7 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,288,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

Julia Keller "Chicago Tribune" David Berlinski plus any topic equals an extraordinary book...Making simple and accessible that which had previously been murky and intimidating is Berlinski's speciality. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Berlinski is an essayist, philosopher, and mathematician. He holds a Ph.D. from Princeton and has spent many years in various academic positions across America and abroad. He is the author of "A Tour of the Calculus" and "The Advent of the Algorithm." He lives in Paris. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ISAAC NEWTON WAS BORN IN THE HAMLET OF Wolingsthorpe in 1642 and died in London in 1727. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
David Berlinski has created a marvelous intellectual history focusing on the progression of Newton's epic breakthrough thinking. He does this in a way that is totally accessible to those who are phobic about mathematics. The explanations are achieved through a skillful combination of simple sentences, symbols, pictures, and diagrams. The presentation is so effective that most readers will find their understanding of important mathematical and scientific principles greatly improved. This is a great book!
Newton was a seminal thinker in the areas of mathematics (developing calculus), physics (with his propositions about gravity and motion), and optics (with his conceptualization of light as being comprised of particles moving in parallel). He also did much work in theology and alchemy, which are recounted here.
A key challenge for David Berlinski was presented by Newton's reticence. He was not a very social person, and wrote almost nothing about how he developed his ideas. Berlinksi does a magnificent job of locating and sharing hints and clues about the bases of these intuitive leaps. This result is enhanced by considering the continuing themes in Newton's thinking, and assuming a connection to his intuition. I suspect that Berlinski is right in connecting the dots that way, but we will never know for sure.
The centerpiece of our story turns out to be the tangent to a curve. From that humble beginning, most of our modern understanding of how physical motion takes place follows.
I also enjoyed better understanding how Newton's thinking was aided by the careful observations and conclusions of Kepler.
If the history of science were always this entertaining, this subject would be one of the most popular majors in colleges.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
David Berlinski has created a marvelous intellectual history focusing on the progression of Newton's epic breakthrough thinking. He does this in a way that is totally accessible to those who are phobic about mathematics. The explanations are achieved through a skillful combination of simple sentences, symbols, pictures, and diagrams. The presentation is so effective that most readers will find their understanding of important mathematical and scientific principles greatly improved. This is a great book!
Newton was a seminal thinker in the areas of mathematics (developing calculus), physics (with his propositions about gravity and motion), and optics (with his conceptualization of light as being comprised of particles moving in parallel). He also did much work in theology and alchemy, which are recounted here.
A key challenge for David Berlinski was presented by Newton's reticence. He was not a very social person, and wrote almost nothing about how he developed his ideas. Berlinksi does a magnificent job of locating and sharing hints and clues about the bases of these intuitive leaps. This result is enhanced by considering the continuing themes in Newton's thinking, and assuming a connection to his intuition. I suspect that Berlinski is right in connecting the dots that way, but we will never know for sure.
The centerpiece of our story turns out to be the tangent to a curve. From that humble beginning, most of our modern understanding of how physical motion takes place follows.
I also enjoyed better understanding how Newton's thinking was aided by the careful observations and conclusions of Kepler.
If the history of science were always this entertaining, this subject would be one of the most popular majors in colleges.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gift Given Freely - We Should All be Grateful 13 Feb 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Berlinski offers a vague but valuable first insight into Newton's own sense of self-awareness concerning his science and its potential. The purpose of theoretical physics and its relativity to life itself are questions which often bubble to the surface of this intelligent but short examination of Newton as mathematical philosopher whilst also introducing the reader more concisely to the practical nature of Newton's developed theories. Calculus, light, optics, gravity and significant laws of mathematics (Principia Mathematica) are covered, but for my own liking, not quite adequately enough - often the maths remaining only a mere sketch. Berlinski evidences that Newton is a thinking titan, not only of his own age, but also for the industrial and technological ages which followed Newton's own lifetime. It's an easy read and the biographical content adequately shows Newton to be a somewhat flawed if difficult figure, withdrawn and brooding, as he struggles to succeed in melding his physics to an advocated science that, at its heart, remains biblically fundamental. At the very least we are provided with a notional Newton who offers tomorrow a wide reaching and inclusive account of how and why the world functions as it does. I'll read more Berlinski.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leap from Intellectual Peak to Intellectual Peak with Newton 16 Nov 2000
By Donald Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
David Berlinski has created a marvelous intellectual history focusing on the progression of Newton's epic breakthrough thinking. He does this in a way that is totally accessible to those who are phobic about mathematics. The explanations are achieved through a skillful combination of simple sentences, symbols, pictures, and diagrams. The presentation is so effective that most readers will find their understanding of important mathematical and scientific principles greatly improved. This is a great book!
Newton was a seminal thinker in the areas of mathematics (developing calculus), physics (with his propositions about gravity and motion), and optics (with his conceptualization of light as being comprised of particles moving in parallel). He also did much work in theology and alchemy, which are recounted here.
A key challenge for David Berlinski was presented by Newton's reticence. He was not a very social person, and wrote almost nothing about how he developed his ideas. Berlinksi does a magnificent job of locating and sharing hints and clues about the bases of these intuitive leaps. This result is enhanced by considering the continuing themes in Newton's thinking, and assuming a connection to his intuition. I suspect that Berlinski is right in connecting the dots that way, but we will never know for sure.
The centerpiece of our story turns out to be the tangent to a curve. From that humble beginning, most of our modern understanding of how physical motion takes place follows.
I also enjoyed better understanding how Newton's thinking was aided by the careful observations and conclusions of Kepler.
If the history of science were always this entertaining, this subject would be one of the most popular majors in colleges.
As Berlinksi tells us in the beginning his purpose in the book is "to offer a sense of the man without specifying in details his . . . activities." This allows us to see the other sides of Newton, but without spending too much time on them. Newton was not perfect. We get glimpses of places where he wasted his time, such as his unsuccessful experiments with alchemy. We also see his flirtations and infatuations. Beyond that, we see what could enrage him, and how he took his revenge. This fleshing out of the whole man makes the scientific history all the more compelling.
If you liked David Berlinski's book, The Birth of the Algorithm, you will probably like this one even better. The asides are much more contained and relevant here.
For those who want a little more math with their scientific history, Berlinski has provided supplementary materials that are quite entertaining.
After you have finished enjoying this wonderful romp, I suggest that you think about where everyday events are unexplained in your life. For example, why do the people you meet with act the way they do? Why is progress slow in many areas, and rapid in others? By looking for connections, you, too, may isolate fundamental principles that can expand our own appreciation as a species of how we achieve understanding. The mysteries of how to improve thinking are still mostly unsolved, and many are relatively unexplored. Perhaps you can be the Newton of this important "last frontier" of self-limiting progress for humans.
Think about it!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich overview 5 Nov 2004
By Ladyfire - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Most of us wonder about the things we see around us. "Why is grass green", "Why doesn't a ship sink?", "Why do the planets move?"

Arguably, no one has wondered more fruitfully than Isaac Newton, who produced three revolutionary ideas: gravity, calculus (concurrently with Leibniz), and the particle theory of light.

Serious math & science folks will find this book too elementary. It is also not an exhaustive biography, or a detailed treatment of Newton's ideas. This info is easy to find. Much rarer is a good synthesis view aimed at a popular audience.

For those who never studied math or science beyond college survey courses, this book is a gem. Berlinski provides a rich sense of Newton's personality and times. More importantly, he explains some of the questions Newton asked, how he answered them, and the implications of some of those answers. Berlinski does this in a manner that is engaging without seeming weighty or tedious.

I am a lifelong learner who never finished college. I found math difficult and impenetrable because my central question, "How do I use it" was never answered. With age and experience, I found that I needed math, particularly calculus, to answer many of the practical questions I pondered. I've read a number of books that dealt with what calculus does, but never found a useful explanation of what it IS.

Berlinski shows us how calculus was made possible by Descartes' coordinate system, explores the fundamental questions that led Newton to calculus, and show us how Newton tied it all together. The real gift is that Berlinski does this in a comprehensible way,with concise illustrations and a clear, logical progression. The math is in the Appendix, for those who wish to delve deeper.

I wish the author had recommended some further reading, but he does comment on several editions of "Principia" in footnotes.

I find myself re-reading sections as I ponder the concepts. Now that's a book!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior mechanic 10 Feb 2010
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Isaac Newton is the largest figure in the history of science, the author asserts. His PRINCIPIA brought mathematical physics into existence. Newton was born in 1642 and died in 1727. A posthumous child, he was born the year Galileo died. He had frightening mental powers and mechanical gifts. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1661. The curriculum was Aristotelian and Newton ignored it. He was self-taught in mathematics and natural history. He was excited by Descartes, analytic geometry. After four year at Cambridge, Newton was exiled to the countryside at Woolsthorpe for sixteen months at the time of the plague. He continued his solitary studies. The year spent in isolation was fruitful. Newton used both Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Galileo's laws of freely falling objects. Both Leibnitz and Newton discovered the leading ideas of calculus independently, but the discoveries were not quite comparable.

In 1667 Newton returned to Cambridge, spending twenty-seven year there. His passion for mathematics had exhausted itself. Newton discovered that gravity could be extended to the orb of the moon. At age twenty-seven Newton became the Lucasian professor of mathematics. In the 1670's Newton lectured on white light, (the particle theory of light). In 1670 he designed and made a small reflecting telescope. He was made a member of the Royal Society.

Hooke wrangled with Newton over his theory of color. In 1684 Newton produced ON THE MOTION OF BODIES IN AN ORBIT. Newton spent the next two years composing the PRINCIPIA. He delivered the manuscript to the Royal Society in 1687. It covers Newton's law of inertia, law of acceleration, law of action and reaction, law of absolute time, and law of absolute space. The treatise is both mathematical and physical. It explains change in the universe. Newton succeeded Hooke to the presidency of the Royal Society. THE OPTICS was published in 1704.

At the end of his life, Newton reinvented himself as a civil servant, Master of the English Mint. He sought to break the wheel of counterfeiting. The Appendix is termed a descent into detail by the author. There is also a Newton chronology and an index at the close of this engaging book.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nifty ideaography of one of the great minds of all time 16 Jun 2003
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The title "Newton's Gift" has, of course, a dual meaning. The book is about Newton's personal gift - his intellectual powers - and his gift to all mankind through his work in Mathematics (the Calculus), Physics (working out gravitation and motion), and Optics. When I walk into Borders and see the tens of thousands of books on the shelves and realize that this still represents a small portion of the books written I think about the works that will still be in print in 300 years. Probably you could pile them up in a small stack in the middle of a small room. Newton's "Principia" and his "Optics" will certainly still be among them. I believe these are among the immortal works of humanity.
Berlinski has a wonderful knack for making the arcane both accessible and lively. He has a style that seems breezy, but is more sophisticated than that and even has a bit of a shimmer to it. There are a few careless mistakes, but they won't get in the way of the story he is telling. For example, on page 33 the circumference of the circle is labeled as time, but it is the AREA of the shaded wedges that is time. The circle is distance. The point of the diagram, I believe, is that when an orbit is closer to the center it moves faster over distance, but the area between the end points of the orbit and center is that same as the area when the orbit is further away from the center and the orbiting body is moving more slowly. But anyone paying attention, I think, would see this pretty quickly.
I call this an Ideaography because the biographical portions are both helpful and concise, but by no means comprehensive. And the book is not technical enough to be considered an explication of Newton's thought. But it is quite successful as a Cook's Tour of Newton's life and thought. It is ideal for intellectually awakening high school students or a quick introduction for college students. It is a most helpful way to get the door open for further study and investigation. There is a most wonderful "Chrestomathy" of the fundamental concepts discussed in the book and the key dates of Newton's life.
However, the book could certainly have used a reading list for further study. Yes, other important works are mentioned throughout the text, but it would have been nice to have a good source for additional reading.
But these quibbles aside, I recommend the book as a nice to read introduction to Newton and his work.
26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but too thin and too cute 27 Jan 2001
By D. Eddy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After reading the other reviews, I was eager to read this book. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. There were three main problems.
The first was that the writing was far too cute for my taste. This was true for both the history and the math sections. The author seemed to be straining to find clever and erudite ways to say things. I assume the intention was to add color and interest to the text, but I found it cumbersome and irritating.
The second problem was that the author frequently flicked off allusions to the inner thoughts and motivations of Newton and other partipants in the story. I couldn't tell if there were any historical bases for his interpretations, or if they were just Berlinski's flights of fancy. It came across to me as gossipy and catty.
The third problem was that with all the cute writing, the book actually contained very little information. I thought it could have been tightened up to about 50 pages, and been much more readable.
The good news is that the book is a very fast read.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback