Final Years

Toward the end of this life, Newton lived at Cranbury Park, near Winchester, England, with his niece, Catherine (Bancroft) Conduitt, and her husband, John Conduitt. By this time, Newton had become one of the most famous men in Europe. His scientific discoveries were unchallenged.

He also had become wealthy, investing his sizable income wisely and bestowing sizable gifts to charity.

Despite his fame, Newton’s life was far from perfect:

He never married or made many friends, and in his later years, a combination of pride, insecurity and side trips on peculiar scientific inquiries led even some of his few friends to worry about his mental stability.By the time he reached 80 years of age, Newton was experiencing digestion problems, and had to drastically change his diet and mobility. Then, in March 1727, Newton experienced severe pain in his abdomen and blacked out, never to regain consciousness.

He died the next day, on March 31, 1727, at the age of 85.

Isaac Newton’s fame grew even more after his death, as many of his contemporaries proclaimed him the greatest genius who ever lived. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but his discoveries had a large impact on Western thought, leading to comparisons to the likes of Plato, Aristotle and Galileo.Although his discoveries were among many made during the Scientific Revolution, Isaac Newton’s universal principles of gravity found no parallels in science at the time. Of course, Newton was proven wrong on some of his key assumptions.

In the 20th century, Albert Einstein would overturn Newton’s concept of the universe, stating that space, distance and motion were not absolute but relative, and that the universe was more fantastic than Newton had ever conceived.

Newton might not have been surprised:

In his later life, when asked for an assessment of his achievements, he replied, “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

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