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A Miracle Made Lyrical: Jim Gleick’s Isaac Newton

     Alexander Pope’s couplet gives me goosebumps: “Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night; God said: Let Newton be! and all was light.”  James Gleick’s lean, lovely biography is a modern account of Newton’s multiple breakthroughs–and then some.  Almost everything we know about apples and moons in motion and at rest, about time, space, gravity, inertia, differential and integral calculus, occurred to Isaac Newton in his early twenties, working in isolation through the London plague years of 1665 and 1666.  Gleick‘s great gift is making this not merely a lucid history of mathematical ideas but also a meditation on the utterly marvelous, a virtually unexplainable genius.  In conversation Jim Gleick underlines the great paradox of Newton. Both medieval and modern, the father of the Enlightenment and modern rationalism was also a determined alchemist and an opinionated Unitarian Christian.  Gleick’s book rises to the challenge of that same paradox: it is wise science written with humility and awe.  Listen in.

{ 33 } Comments

  1. Anonymous | September 1, 2003 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    Newton astounds me in what he could see from where he was sitting in medieval times.

    I have known a lot of bright people, but none with a brilliance so shattering of paradigms as Isaac Newton.

  2. Anonymous | September 27, 2003 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Great interview. Between the two of you, Gleick and Lydon, you bring out the enormous difference between Newton’s time and ours–and it all happened so gradually, almost imperceptibly over the intervening years. If one object of the interview is that the listener should go out and get the book, that will happen this afternoon out here! Looking forward to reading it, and may even be driven back to re-reading “Chaos,” Jim Gleick’s wonderful earlier book.

  3. Anonymous | April 11, 2005 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    i think Mr. Isaac Newton is the best mathematician and scietific guy i’ve ever learn. and the interesting fact is i get to do a roject about him. and have to present it in front of 32 class. and has to video tape it also.

  4. Anonymous | September 2, 2005 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

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  6. Eğitim Haberleri | March 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this great post.

  7. leke açıcı | March 31, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Newton astounds me in what he could see from where he was sitting in medieval times.

  8. leke kremi | September 27, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Isaac Newton is the best mathematician and scietific guy i’ve ever learn. and the interesting fact is i get to do a roject about him

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  10. The Penthouse | April 5, 2011 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    I agree, Jim Gleick underlines the great paradox of Newton.

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  17. Arvin | June 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Newton has been and will undoubtedly be one of the best scientists. science and humanity will always be indebted to him.

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  18. Maria | June 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

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  19. David | July 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I am glad you shared this, its old but still relevent to todays world.

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  22. Аквичоп | September 3, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    This post is very nice and interesting..

  23. mobile satellite tv | October 20, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    i think Mr. Isaac Newton was an extroadinary guy in hi time and was a foward thinker. I also think he was well ahead of his time with some of his methods and way of thinking

    great post and interview, thankyou, tim

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  30. steve | February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    can anyone tell me who played sir issac newton in a bio from 1975???



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