Isaac Newton

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Sir Isaac Newton by Kneller
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was an English scientist and mathematician, sometimes considered the greatest scientist who ever lived.

Newton was born at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in Lincolnshire. He went to school at Grantham, and studied at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1661. In 1669 he was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. This would normally have required him to be ordained a priest of the Church of England, but Newton obtained a special permission from King Charles II to be appointed without being ordained, as his religious views were somewhat orthodox.

Newton's laws of motion and theory of universal gravitation revolutionised the understanding of the physical world, and explained how the same force that makes an apple fall from a tree accounts for the motions of the planets. The Newtonian explanation of the world was unchallenged until Einstein developed the theory of relativity in the early 20th century, and is still an adequate approximation to the real world for most everyday purposes. In optics, he was the first to show that white light is made up of a mixture of the colours of the spectrum. In mathematics, he invented calculus in parallel with Leibniz.

Newton never married, and is sometimes claimed to have died a virgin. He did have very close relationships with male friends, although there is no evidence that these were sexual. Thus some modern writers have claimed that he was gay or bisexual, but the truth will probably never be known.