Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and physicist, c 1700.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Jacobus Houbraken after a painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1665, becoming Lucasian Profesor of Mathematics there in 1669. His theories, published in his treatise 'The Mathematical Principle of Natural Philosophy' in 1687, exerted a huge influence on science. They included the three laws of motion, the theory of gravitation and the law of cooling. As a mathematician, Newton also discovered the binomial theorem and differential calculus. His work was unique, pointing physics in a new direction and giving mathematical expresion to physical phenomena.