Quotations by Newton, Isaac


If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist and mathematician
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of the people.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist and mathematician
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Supposedly after the ruinous stock price collapse of the "South Sea Bubble" in 1720, in which Newton lost £20,000.

The earliest mention of this is found in Joseph Spence, Second Memorandum Book (1756), collected in Joseph Spence (ed. Samuel Weller Singer), Anecdotes, Observations, and Characters, of Books and Men (1820). There a Lord Radnor is quoted as saying: "When Sir Isaac Newton was asked about the continuance of the rising of South Sea stock? — He answered, 'that he could not calculate the madness of the people.'" (Note that this supposedly takes place before the bubble bursts.)

Variants:
  • I can calculate the motions of erratic bodies, but not the madness of a multitude. ["Mammon and the Money Market," The Church of England Quarterly Review (1850)]
  • I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.
  • I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies but not the madness of men.
  • I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.
Added on 14-Jan-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-21
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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 sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist and mathematician
Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, 2.27 [ed. D. Brewster (1855)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Mar-14
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What certainty can there be in a Philosophy which consists in as many Hypotheses as there are Phenomena to be explained. To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. ‘Tis much better to do a little with certainty, & leave the rest for others that come after you, than to explain all things by conjecture without making sure of any thing.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist and mathematician
Opticks, Preface (unpublished) (1703)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Mar-21 | Last updated 1-Mar-21
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Everybody continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist and mathematician
Principia Mathematica (1687) [tr. A. Motte (1729)]
Added on 4-Aug-09 | Last updated 4-Aug-09
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What Des-Cartes did was a good step. You have added much several ways, & especially in taking the colours of thin plates into philosophical consideration. If I have seen further it is by standing on the sholders of Giants.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist and mathematician
Letter to Robert Hooke (5 Feb 1676)

In the Gregorian calendar, 15 Feb 1676. See Bernard of Chartres.
Added on 3-Mar-14 | Last updated 18-Jun-15
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