The Life of Sir Isaac Newton IELTS Reading Passage with Answers
READING PASSAGE 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.
The Life of Sir Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643, in Lincolnshire, England. The son of a farmer, who died three months before he was born, Newton spent most of his early years with his maternal grandmother after his mother remarried. Following an education interrupted by a failed attempt to turn him into a farmer, he attended the King’s School in Grantham before enrolling at the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College in 1661, where he soon became fascinated by the works of modern philosophers such as René Descartes. When the Great Plague shut Cambridge off from the rest of England in 1665, Newton returned home and began formulating his theories on calculus, light and color, his farm the setting for the supposed falling apple that inspired his work on gravity.
Newton returned to Cambridge in 1667. He constructed the first reflecting telescope in 1668, and the following year he received his Master of Arts degree and took over as Cambridge’s Professor of Mathematics. In 1671 he was asked to give a demonstration of his telescope to the Royal Society of London in 1671, the same year he was elected to the prestigious Society. The following year, fascinated with the study of light, he published his notes on optics for his peers. Through his experiments, Newton determined that white light was a composite of all the colors on the spectrum, and he asserted that light was composed of particles instead of waves. His methods were heavily criticized by established Society member Robert Hooke, who was also unwilling to compromise again with Newton’s follow-up paper in 1675. Known for his temperamental defense of his work, Newton engaged in heated correspondence with Hooke before suffering a nervous breakdown and withdrawing from the public eye in 1678. In the following years, he returned to his earlier studies on the forces governing gravity.
In 1684, English astronomer Edmund Halley paid a visit to the reclusive Newton. Upon learning that Newton had mathematically worked out the elliptical paths of celestial bodies, such as the movement of the planets around the sun, Halley urged him to organize his notes. The result was the 1687 publication of “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), which established the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravity. Principia made Newton a star in intellectual circles, eventually earning him widespread acclaim as one of the most important figures in modern science.
As a now influential figure, Newton opposed King James II’s attempts to reinstate Catholic teachings at English Universities, and was elected to represent Cambridge in Parliament in 1689. He moved to London permanently after being named warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, earning a promotion to master of the Mint three years later. Determined to prove his position wasn’t merely symbolic, Newton moved the pound sterling from the silver to the gold standard and sought to punish forgers.
The death of Hooke in 1703 allowed Newton to take over as president of the Royal Society, and the following year he published his second major work, “Opticks.” Composed largely from his earlier notes on the subject, the book detailed Newton’s experiments with refraction and the color spectrum, and also contained his conclusions on such matters as energy and electricity. In 1705, he was knighted by Queen Anne of England.
Around this time, the debate over Newton’s claims to originating the field of calculus, the mathematical study of change, exploded into a nasty dispute. Newton had developed his mathematical concept of ‘fluxions’ (differentials) in the mid-1660s to account for celestial orbits, though there was no public record of his work. In the meantime, German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz formulated his own theories and published them in 1684. As president of the Royal Society, Newton oversaw an investigation that ruled his work to be the founding basis of the field, but the debate continued even after Leibniz’s death in 1716. Researchers later concluded that both men likely arrived at their conclusions independent of one another.
Newton was also obsessed with history and religious doctrines, and his writings on those subjects were collected into multiple books that were published after his death. Having never married, Newton spent his later years living with his niece at Cranbury Park, near Winchester, England. He died on March 31, 1727, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. A giant even among the brilliant minds that drove the Scientific Revolution, Newton is remembered as an extraordinary scholar, inventor and writer. His theories about the movement of bodies in the solar system transformed our understanding of the universe and his precise methodology helped to give birth to what is known as the scientific method. Although his theories of space-time and gravity were eventually superseded by those of Einstein his work remains the foundation stone of modern physics was built.
The text has seven paragraphs labeled A–G.
Reading passage 1 has seven paragraphs, A-G.
Choose the correct headings for paragraphs B-G from the list of headings below.
Write the correct number, i-viii, in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i Continued breakthroughs in research
ii Competing claims of originality
iii The early years of Sir Isaac Newton
iv The legacy of an exceptional mind
v Routine life at a 17th century university
vi Heated academic disputes
vii A new venture
viii His crowning achievement
ix A controversial theory about planets
iii Paragraph A
1 Paragraph B
2 Paragraph C
3 Paragraph D
4 Paragraph E
5 Paragraph F
6 Paragraph G
Answer the questions below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer
Write your answers in boxes 7-8 on your answer sheet.
7 With which scientific organization was Newton associated for much of his career?
8 With whom did Newton live as he got older?
Complete the notes below.
Choose ONE WORD from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet.
Sir Isaac Newton’s achievements
Created first reflecting 9_________, subsequently made a professor at Cambridge at the age of 25.
Helped develop the scientific method with his experiments in 10_________, the study of light; showed that it is 11_________, not waves, that constitute light.
Worked out the laws of the movement of bodies in space (planets etc.), published Principia Mathematica with laws of gravity and 12_________.
Joint founder (with Leibniz) of 13_________, a new branch of mathematics.
The Life of Sir Isaac Newton IELTS Reading PassageAnswers
7. royal society
8. niece / his niece
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