Isaac Newton Died A Virgin And 9 Other Facts About The Brilliant, Bizarre Physicist

Isaac Newton today is venerated as one of the greatest scientists
who ever lived -- the father of classical mechanics and co-creator
of calculus. But in his day, Newton was known for many things,
including some very bizarre behavior and a personality that
might be considered quirky at best.
Consider these 10 fascinating facts about Newton:

Fact #1: Newton was a big-time sinner. At least he thought he was. At
the tender age of 19, the future mathematician committed to
paper a list of 48 sins of which he was guilty. Transgressions
ranged from "peevishness" at his mother to "having uncleane
thoughts words and actions and dreamese." He also confessed to
"eating an apple at Thy house," though he gave no word as to
whether it was THE apple (see #9 below).

Fact #2: He stuck a needle in his eye socket -- on purpose. In Newton's
time little was known about the properties of light. In fact, people
weren't even sure whether the eye created light or collected it,
James Gleick, author of a 2003 biography of Newton, told HuffPost
Science in a telephone interview. Curious, Newton embarked on
his own detailed study of optics -- and he wasn't above acting as
his own guinea pig, probing his eye with a blunt needle known as
a bodkin. As he wrote in his journal:
I tooke a bodkine gh & put it betwixt my eye & [the] bone
as neare to [the] backside of my eye as I could: & pressing
my eye [with the] end of it (so as to make [the] curvature
a, bcdef in my eye) there appeared severall white darke &
coloured circles...

Fact #3: He had two nervous breakdowns. In 1678, after engaging in
a dispute over aspects of his theory of optics, Newton is believed
to have suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1693, he had another,
after which he retired from scientific research. Newton blamed
his second breakdown on lack of sleep, though historians mention
other possible causes, including chemical poisoning from
experiments (see #8 below) as well as the accumulated effects of
chronic psychological depression.

Fact #4: He was born a preemie to poorly educated parents. Newton
was born in the English county of Lincolnshire, the only son of a
farmer, also named Isaac Newton, and his wife, Hannah
Ayscough. Born three months premature, he was so small at birth
that he could have fit inside a quart mug, his mother reportedly
said. His father was illiterate, and his mother was barely able to
read, Gleick told HuffPost Science. "He was able to go to
university because his mother remarried and so there was some
money," Gleick said.

Fact #5: He waited tables. As a student at the University of
Cambridge, Newton had to wait tables. He was a "sizar," Gleick
said, referring the term used to describe an undergraduate who
received financial assistance in return for performing menial
duties. In Newton's case, that included being a waiter and taking
care of other students' rooms.

Fact #6: He was a lonely guy. Some have speculated that Newton
suffered from a mental illness (perhaps bipolar disorder) or
autism. That's hard to know for sure, but one thing that is clear is
that Newton was chronically lonely. "We can see this when he
was a child and when he was an old man," Gleick said. "He got
into fights."

Fact #7: He escaped the Great Plague. When a devastating outbreak
of bubonic plague hit Cambridge in 1665, Newton and his
classmates were sent home to ride out the epidemic. But the
budding mathematician made good use of his time -- by inventing

Fact #8: He practiced alchemy. Though rightly celebrated for his
scientific genius, Newton also dabbled in alchemy -- a
pseudoscience whose aim is to turn lead and other base metals
into gold.

Fact #9: He didn't think up his theories after seeing an apple fall to the
ground. "Most people think that Newton was hit on the head with
an apple," Gleick told HuffPost Science. "But it's probably not
true." What likely was true, he said, is that Newton realized that
the same invisible force that caused apples to fall to the ground
also affected the movements of the moon.

Fact #10: He died a virgin. Newton never married and, though it's
impossible to verify, is widely believed never to have had sex.