|The new hard drive has no data on it.|
It will not boot until you have an operating system installed on it.
In any case you should see something on the laptop screen when you try to boot the laptop, whether a hard drive is installed or not. If you don't, as OtheHill has pointed out, you have another problem.
ATX mboards are always powered in some places, even when the computer is not running, as long as the main battery is in the laptop.
Did you remove the AC Adapter and the main battery before you removed the old hard drive and installed the new one in the laptop? If you didn't you may have damaged the hard drive or the laptop's mboard.
You could try installing the old hard drive in the laptop to see if you get a display.
Were you were fiddling with the laptop's ram, or did you change the ram you have installed in it, since you last got a normal display?
In either case, remove the AC adapter and the main battery and make sure the ram is seated properly.
If you installed ram that was not installed before, it may not be compatible with the mboard. If you still have the old ram, try installing it to see if you then get a display.
"...the disk spins then stops."
"i can see the lights indicating that it is spinning, but only for a few seconds, then no more spinning."
You're assuming the hard disk has stopped. The led not lighting up after it has lit up does not necessarily indicate that, and almost always it's still spinning.
If it does not boot into an operating system, the led indicating hard drive activity will go off in a short time after booting and stay off.
Laptops hard drives are fairly quiet. It can be difficult to tell if they are spinning. It is likely it is the cpu fan spinning you are hearing, not the hard drive.
Most laptops only run the cpu fan a bit while booting, or don't run it at all while booting, and turn it off or keep it off until the temp inside the case or the cpu temp gets to a point where the the cpu fan needs to be turned on. Some laptops have a variable speed cpu fan that is very quiet when spinning slower.
You can connect the new blank drive to another computer, but you can't boot from it until it has an operating system installed on it, and it won't show up in My Computer or Windows Explorer until it has been partitioned and formatted - it WILL show up in Device Manager and in Disk Management (Control Panel - Classic view - Administrative Tools - Computer Mangement - Disk Management) if it has been connected propery and the computer's bios recognizes it.
You can partition and format it in Disk Management.