Sir Isaac Newton - Born fatherless in a Lincolnshire farmhouse in 1642, Isaac Newton transformed the worlds of mathematics, science, and philosophy during the course of the seventeenth century. His impact is perhaps best summed up by Alexander Pope's couplet:
"Nature and Nature's laws lay hid by night; God said, 'Let Newton be!' And all was Light.
Working alone, he invented the notion of the infinite series and then the Calculus. He unified the celestial and terrestrial worlds with his laws of motion and theory of gravity in which the Moon moved according to exactly the same laws as an apple falling from a tree. He understood for the first time the nature of color, derived the laws of optics, and invented the reflecting telescope. His "Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica", often denoted simply as the "Principia" is, without doubt, the most important scientific teatise ever published.
There are literally hundreds of biographies of Isaac Newton. A truly remarkable little book recently published, "Isaac Newton" by James Gleick places Newton and his work in the context of the intellectual history of the West.