Isaac Newton Essay
It was a time of great change in seventeenth-century England, but a baby was being born on December 25, 1642, that would create more change in the way man perceived his world than anyone before him; he would be named Isaac Newton. England was going through the Glorious Revolution and was in a state of turmoil. Newton was born in the town of Lincolnshire, England, the same year Galileo died.
Newton derived many of his accomplishments by using much of Galileo s work, along with many other pioneers of science. Galileo was nearly eighty-two years old when he died and Newton was nearly eighty-five, together they covered virtually the entire scientific revolution (Westfall, 1). Although Newton used much of the work of his predecessors, he contributed more by far to the enlightenment of man with respect to mathematics, science, and the universe, than any other human before or after him.
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His father, who had died an illiterate shortly before Newton was born, was a yeoman farmer. His mother re-married about three years later to Barnabas Smith, an elderly widower, and Isaac was left in the care of his maternal grandmother. According to Christianson, this devastated the young Newton who had never set eyes on his father, was suddenly parted from his mother .but he nursed grudges and would wait years, if need be, to gain revenge on those he believed had wronged him (12).
Newton s ability to hold a grudge and need for revenge appear throughout his life. He was by no means a normal person; in fact, he is now considered one of history’s greatest thinkers. Though the list is long, Newton is best remembered for his three laws of motion and the universal gravitational law. His wonderful ability to absorb and solve sophisticated problems led him to be a great influence on the way society thought about the world in the seventeenth century and was also the beginning of science as we know it today.
It was Newton that was primarily responsible for the creation of mechanics and the explanation of planet movement. This, accompanied by his other work in mathematics created the arena for future exploration in the fields of mechanics, optics, engineering, kinetics, light, and countless others. His achievements would not only go on to affect the future, but he also solidified the infamous Scientific Revolution in his own lifetime. These profound accomplishments and a multitude of other work that had monumental effects on worldview ultimately led Sir Isaac Newton to be known as the father of modern science.
In order to understand the nature of Newton’s genius, we must first understand the period of time in which he lived. Before Newton’s birth, many scientists had begun to make discoveries that would affect his thought. Galileo wrote on mechanics, kinematics, and astronomy. Descartes studied analytical geometry and optics. Hooke examined elasticity (Anthony, 89).
During this period many other scientists were advancing other fields. The seventeenth century was probably the most creative period in the history of mankind. The scientific revolution, not unlike the industrial revolution, virtually exploded after everything was aligned to make it possible.
The catalyst for the scientific revolution was Newton s discoveries and they were the culmination of work from previous centuries. In the seventeenth century, social, political, economic, and religious changes were occurring as a result of this work.
Craftsmen as well as men of wealth were turning to science, one for the improvement of methods and products, the other for an exciting hobby. In addition, scientific communities were being formed in Italy, France, and England. These societies provided regular meetings full of cooperation, presentation, debate and quarrels that helped further scientific knowledge.
In 1672 Newton was elected a member of the Royal Society which finally gave him access to the finest minds in the British scientific revolution (Strathern 67). They also provided solicit support for the work of scientists. The culmination of all these factors provided for the perfect time for a scientific revolution like the one Newton created (Anthony, 82).
Nevertheless, it was not easy for him to gain the knowledge and background necessary for great discoveries. He was sent to school at Grantham at age 12, where his mechanical proficiency excited some attention. He used this ability to build sundials, windmills, and clocks that were surprisingly accurate.
However, he was not a prodigy, as is shown by school reports of him being “idle and inattentive”. In 1656 he returned home to learn the business of a farmer, as was requested by his mother, but spent most of his time-solving problems, making experiments, or devising mechanical models. His mother, noticing this, sensibly resolved to find some more congenial occupation for him.
As a result Newton’s uncle, having been himself educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, recommended that he should be sent there (Ipsen, 11). At Cambridge, Newton’s studies were on Plato and Aristotle s teachings, which he kept track of in his notebook. This notebook would later be known as the philosophical notebook to scholars. In his third year his interests turned to the air, earth, and matter, and the teachings of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo along the work of many more contemporary scientists (Christianson, 22-23).
In his notebook, according to Christianson was the sentence I am a friend of Plato, I am a friend of Aristotle, but the truth is my greater friend (22). It was at this time when his mathematical abilities unfolded, but he did not get a chance to use them until the plague closed Cambridge in 1665. The subsequent year and a half would be called the annus mirabilis, a succession of triumphs unequaled in the history of scientific invention, according to Manuel (78). During this time he began revolutionary advances in the fields of mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy that would eventually characterize his career.
One of Newton’s greatest achievements in mathematics was the development of differential and integral calculus. During the plague years, he began his work on calculus, several years before its independent discovery by German philosopher and mathematician Leibniz.
The “method of fluxions,” as he termed it, was based on his crucial insight that the integration of a function (finding the area under its curve) is merely the inverse procedure to differentiating it (finding the slope of the curve at any point). Taking differentiation as the basic operation, Newton produced simple analytical methods that unified a host of disparate techniques previously developed on a piecemeal basis to deal with individual problems like finding areas, tangents, and the lengths of curves (Gjertsen, 164).
Even though Newton could not justify his methods, he receives the credit for developing a powerful tool of problem-solving and analysis in pure mathematics and physics. Isaac Barrow, a Fellow of Trinity College and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the University, was so impressed by Newton’s accomplishment that when he resigned his chair in 1669 to become Chaplain to Charles II he recommended that the 26-year-old Newton take his place (White, 103).
Newton’s first work as a Lucasian Professor was on optics. He had reached the conclusion during the two plague years that white light is not a simple, homogeneous entity. Every scientist since Aristotle had believed that white light was a basic single entity, but the chromatic aberration in a telescope lens convinced Newton otherwise (White 170). When he passed a thin beam of sunlight through a glass prism, he noted an oblong spectrum of colors.
Newton then showed that the spectrum was too long to be explained by the accepted theory of the bending of light by dense media. Newton argued that white light is really a mixture of many different types of rays, each of which is specific to a given spectral color. He then proved this theory by directing a blue band of light through a prism and showing that it was refracted at a different angle than if he allowed only the red band to pass through the prism.
All the rays of that specific color were refracted at the same angle (White, 166). In addition, Newton tried to prove that light was composed of a stream of particles and not waves. This notion led to years of clashes with Robert Hooke, a fellow member of the Royal Society, who believed that light was a wave and not particles. In 1704, a year after Hooke s death, Newton published Opticks, a book explaining his theories of light and color (Ipsen, 28). As a result, his theories about light particle and the scientific method he used to prove them were universally accepted.
Although Newton’s theories on mathematics and optics were quite impressive, his greatest achievement by far was his work in physics and celestial mechanics, which culminated in the theory of universal gravitation. Even though Newton also began this research in the plague years, the story that he discovered universal gravitation in 1666 while watching an apple fall from a tree in his garden is a myth.
By 1666, Newton had formulated early versions of his Three Laws of Motion, another of his great discoveries. He had also conceived of the law defining the centrifugal force of a body moving uniformly in a circular path. Using Huygen’s thought of circular motion as the result of a balance between two forces: one centrifugal, the other centripetal (toward the center), rather than as the result of one force, Newton created an experiment to calculate the force on an object due to the centrifugal force (White, 89).
Newton’s great insight of 1666 was to imagine that the Earth’s gravity extended to the Moon, counterbalancing its centrifugal force. From his law of centrifugal force and Kelper’s third law of planetary motion, Newton deduced that the centrifugal force of the Moon or of any planet must decrease as the inverse square of its distance from the center of its motion (Gjertsen, 124). For example, if the distance is doubled, the force is one fourth as much. Then in 1679, Newton’s adversary, Hooke drew him into a discussion of the problem for orbital motion.
Hooke suggested to Newton that circular motions arise from the centripetal deflection of inertially moving bodies. Hooke, lacking the math skills to prove his theory, conjectured that if the planetary movement was elliptical rather than circular about the Sun, the centripetal force drawing them to the Sun should vary as the inverse square of their distances from it (White, 200).
Although Hooke could not prove his theories mathematically, he boasted enough to draw Newton, who did not want to be shown up, into finally proving the law. To do this Newton showed that if a body obeys Kelper’s second law, then the body is being acted upon by a centripetal force. This discovery revealed for the first time the physical significance of Kelper’s second law.
Given this discovery, Newton succeeded in showing that a planet in an elliptical orbit is attracted to one focus (sun) by a force that varies in accordance with the distance of the planet from the sun. Then in 1684, Newton was asked by Edmond Halley to publish his findings that proved Hooke’s conjecture. After 18 months of continuous work, Newton published the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Westfall, 176). Although Newton could not come up with the constant for the equation he was responsible for developing the equation still in use today to determine the gravitational pull between two objects.
Regardless of the fact that Newton had to be urged to publish the Principia, as it is normally called, it is considered to be the greatest scientific book ever written. These results were applied to orbiting bodies, projectiles, pendula, and free-fall near Earth. Newton further demonstrated that the planets were attracted toward the Sun by a force varying according to the distance from the Sun, and in doing so, generalized that every piece of matter attracts every other piece of matter with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them (Spielvogel, 583).
Now that Newton had the law of universal gravitation and the laws of motion, he could explain a wide range for hitherto disparate phenomena such as comet orbits, tides, Earth’s axis, and the motion and orbit of the Moon. This one law which Newton had derived in less than a year reduced to order most of the known problems of astronomy and terrestrial physics and served as a firm physical base to the Copernican world picture.
As a result of his entire scientific discovery in the fields of physics, mathematics, and optics, and his genuine ingenuity and intuitiveness, Sir Isaac Newton almost single-handedly perpetuated the scientific revolution. His theories on the universal law of gravitation and the laws of motion finally served to nullify the last of Aristotle’s misconceptions (Anthony, 189). Even though many scientists had proved Aristotle wrong previously, Newton finally proved that the basis of the universe was not controlled by God, but by a universal set of laws that apply to all matter everywhere.
In addition, Newton invented a scientific and logical methodology, which made it possible to reveal the secrets of the natural world by human investigation (Spielvogel 583). It was with the Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy that make up his methodology, that Newton was able to formulate his universal laws (Spielvogel, 583). With these laws, he solidified the scientific revolution. People like Descartes and Kepler had already formulated the problems that this methodology would solve during Newton s time. Newton had been born into a time of profound intellectual ferment that was just about to revolutionize the world.
The pieces of this mysterious puzzle of the inner workings of the universe had been laid out, yet no one had the insight to render intelligible the picture as a whole, until Newton. When he did, a new era of intellectual freedom was heralded in, producing a scheme of the universe, which was more consistent, elegant, and intuitive than any other before.
The old ideas of a God controlled universe were dropped and the church no longer had the power to suppress the truth from the people. Finally, the work of Galileo, Copernicus, and Kelper was united and transformed into one coherent scientific theory that revoked all previous misconceptions of the people and truly ushered in a worldwide Scientific Revolution.
These monumental changes brought on through the scientific revolution were surely the work of one of history’s greatest thinkers: Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac Newton was born into a time of great change, yet he grew to cause one of the greatest changes in history. The amount of technological advancement in the world today is all thanks to the work of Newton.
His biographies and life s work mark his genius in history books, but all one has to do is pick up a Physics or Calculus book to see how his genius is affecting scholars, still today. His theories on universal gravitation and laws of motion fueled the scientific revolution, which in turn set the stage for future analysis in many scientific fields.
In addition, the methodology he produced during his experimentation in optics was so universal, that it increased the chance of success for any scientist of that time, and thus increased the amount of scientific advancement. Sir Isaac Newton was responsible for so many contributions to the fields of science, mechanics, and mathematics that it would be a daunting task to list them all.
But it is these profound accomplishments and the immeasurable effects that they had on a worldview that truly proclaims Sir Isaac Newton the father of all science, and the most profound thinker in history.
Newton was born on December 25, 1642, in a little English village of Woolsthorpe, near England. Throughout his life, Newton discovered and published many of his theories, inventions, and ideas (Spielvogel, 354).
Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. He is considered one of the greatest scientists in history. He made important contributions to many fields of science. His discoveries and theories laid the foundation for much of the progress in science. Newton was one of the inventors of mathematics called calculus. He also solved the mysteries of light and optics, formulated the three laws of motion, and derived from them the law of universal gravitation (www.Britannica.com).
Newton is sometimes described as one of the greatest names in the history of human thought (Jacob 388). As a boy, he was more interested in making mechanical devices than in studying. Some of the young Newton s inventions included a small windmill that could grind wheat and corn, a water clock run by the force of dropping water, and a sundial. He left school at the age of 14 to help his widowed mother with the family farm (Jacob 390).
It was assumed he would continue in the farming tradition of his family, but finally, his mother became convinced that he should be prepared for entry to university. He attended Trinity College at Cambridge. Newton showed no particular promise in his early years, but Isaac Barrow who held the Lucasian chair of mathematics gave him much encouragement.
In 1664 the Great Plague broke out in London, and the university was closed down the following year (North, 10). At home during the plague years, he studied the nature of light and the construction of telescopes. By a variety of experiments upon sunlight refracted through a prism, he concluded that rays of light, which differ in color, also differ in irrefrangibility – a discovery that suggested that the indistinctness of the image formed by the object-glass of telescopes was due to the different-colored rays of light being brought to a focus at different distances (Schuster, 173). On his return to Cambridge in 1667, Newton became a Fellow of Trinity College, and in 1668 he took his MA.
Newton laid the foundation for the science of spectrum analysis. He studied and explained why bodies appear to be colored. His studies of light and color had major implications in astronomy as they allowed for the determination of chemical composition, temperature, and speed of distant stars. Newton also made observations of sunlight and how it is a mixture of all colors. The study of light led to the construction of his first reflecting telescope (Jacob, 389).
During the plague years, Newton developed differential and integral calculus, several years before its independent discovery by the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz (Schuster, 173). Newton developed many techniques and methods for calculus and general mathematics.
Even though Newton could not fully explain and justify his methods, he is accredited with the development of powerful techniques of problem-solving and analysis in mathematics and physics. Isaac Barrow, a Fellow of Trinity College and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the university, was so impressed by Newton s achievements that when he resigned his chair in 1669 to devote himself to theology, he recommended that the 27-year-old Newton should take his place (Schuster, 173).
Newton made great advancements in the scientific realm. His theories of motion and gravity are still looked upon with the highest degree of admiration and are still used in today s learning institutes. Newton claimed that the idea of universal force came to him while he was alone in the country, avoiding the outbreak of the plague in the city of Cambridge.
Newton came up with the idea that every pair of bodies in the universe attracts each other. The attracting force depends on the amount of matter in the bodies and the distance between the bodies (Jacob, 388).
Newton devised three major laws of motion: Law I. 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. Law II. The change of motion is proportional to the motive force impressed. It is made in the direction of the straight line in which the force is impressed. Law III. To every action, there is always an opposite and equal reaction (Spielvogel, 355).
Newton s discoveries on the laws of motion and the theories of gravitation were published in 1687 in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). This work, usually called Principia or Principia Mathematica, is considered one of the greatest single contributions in the history of science. It includes Newton s laws of motion and theory of gravitation.
It was the first book to contain a unified system of scientific principles explaining what happens on earth and in the heavens (Jacob, 389). Queen Anne knighted Isaac Newton in 1705, making him Sir Isaac Newton. He died in 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
In conclusion, Isaac Newton made many great contributions and discoveries throughout his 85 years of existence. He is considered one of the smartest people to ever live. His life and contributions extend much further beyond the writings of this paper. This paper merely scratched the surface of Newton s life. It is difficult to write a short paper on one of the greatest people to ever live.
Newton is by far one of the most significant contributors of ideas and theories to the advancement of knowledge and learning. His great discoveries left us with a unified system of laws that could be applied to an enormous range of physical phenomena. These applications let Newton predict precisely the motion of the stars and the planets around the sun. Newton’s book Principia is still recognized as the greatest scientific book ever written.
Isaac Newton is one of the greatest historical figures who will remain the annals of history, because of his numerous contributions to different scientific fields such as mathematics and physics. As Hall (Para 1) argues, “Generally, people have always regarded Newton as one of the most influential theorists in the history of science”. Most of his scientific experiments and abstracts laid the foundation of the modern-day scientific inventions, as he was able to prove and document different theoretical concepts.
For example, his publication “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” is one of the best scientific reference materials in physics and mathematics. Newton is well remembered for his numerous scientific discoveries such as the laws of gravity, differential and integral calculus, the working of a telescope, and the three laws of linear motion. In addition to science, Newton was also very religious, because of the numerous biblical hermeneutics and occult studies that he wrote in his late-life (1).
Newton was born to Puritan parents Isaac Newton and Hannah Ayscough in 1643 in the county of Lincolnshire, England. He spent most of his childhood days with his grandmother because his dad had passed away three months before he was born and he could not get along with his stepfather.
During his early years of school, Newton schooled at the King’s School, Grantham, although it never lasted for long, because the passing away of his stepfather in 1659 forced his family to relocate to Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth; hence, making him drop out of school. His stay in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth was short-lived, because, through the influence of King’s schoolmaster Henry Strokes, his mother allowed him to go back to school and finish his studies.
As a result of his exemplary performance in the King’s School, Newton got a chance of joining Trinity College, Cambridge on a sizar basis. In college, Newton was a very hardworking and fast learner, because in addition to reading the normal college curriculum materials that were based on Aristotle’s works, he was interested in reading more philosophical and astronomical works written by other philosophers such as Descartes and astronomers such as Galileo, and Thomas Hobes .
To a large extent, this laid the foundation for his later discoveries, because four years later in 1665, Newton invented the binomial theorem and came up with a mathematical theory, which he later modified to be called the infinitesimal calculus. The closure of Trinity College, Cambridge in late 1665, because of the plague did not prevent Newton from advancing his studies on his own, as he continued with private studies at home.
Through his private studies, Newton was able to discover numerous theories the primary ones being calculus, optics, the foundation of the theory of light and color, and the law of gravitation. Newton was very proud of his advancements, something that was evident in his words “ All this was in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666, for in those days I was in my prime of age for invention, and minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since,’ when college reopened (O’Connor and Robertson 1).
Newton’s middle Life
Upon the re-opening of his college in 1667, he was chosen as a minor fellow, and later as a senior fellow when he embarked on his masters of Arts degree. In 1969, he was selected to replace Professor Isaac Barrow, who was the outgoing professor of Mathematics.
His appointment gave him more opportunities of improving his early works in optics, which led to the release of his first project paper on the nature of color in 1672, after being elected to the Royal Society. This marked the start of the numerous publications that Newton released later, although he faced numerous challenges and opposition from one of the leading scientific researchers, Robert Hook. Between 1670 and 1672 Newton also taught optics at Trinity College, Cambridge.
This enabled him to do further researches on the concept of refraction of light using glass prisms leading to his discovery of the refraction of light and the development of the first Newtonian telescope using mirrors. Although the 1678 emotional breakdown suffered by Newton was a major setback to his work, after recovering, he continued with his early researches which led to the publication of the Principia; a publication that elaborated on the laws of motion and the universal law of gravity.
In addition to this, the publication elaborated on some calculus laws primarily on geometrical analysis and some more explanations of the heliocentric theory of the solar system. This publication was followed by another publication that was the second edition of the Principia in 1713. This publication provided more explanations on the force of gravity and the force which made objects to be attracted to one another (Hatch 1).
Newton’s Late Life
His works in the Principia made Newton a very respected and famous scientist of the time; hence, the nature of appointments, which he received in his late life. For example, in 1689 he was selected as the parliamentary representative of Cambridge; one of the highest power seats of the time. As if this was not enough, in 1703 Newton become the president of the Royal Society, a seat he maintained until his death, and Later on in 1704, Newton released a publication named “Opticks” (Fowler 1).
The dawn of 1690’was a transitional period for Newton, as he ventured into the Bible World. As Hatch (1) argues “during this period Newton ventured into writing religious tracts with a literal interpretation of the Bible.” Some of his writings included some works which questioned the reality behind the Trinity and the Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended.
Sir Isaac Newton’s intellect and contributions eclipsed the scientific contributions of an entire generation of his peers. While there are a number of great minds recorded in human history, many are from periods of questionable record keeping. We know that many ideas attributed to the great ancient scientists and philosophers have been argued to be the work of other, lesser-known contributors. While there may have been a greater individual mind in history, the question of where fact ends and historic liberty begins calls their entire legacy into question. Isaac Newton doesn’t suffer from this historic ambiguity.
Historians and scholars from his era rigorously recorded and cross-checked every detail of his work. He possessed so great an intellect that in many ways he shifted humanities drive away from the Aristotelian research focus and realigned it in pursuit of his own research. He simultaneously disproved centuries old theories, provided new ideas that set science on an entirely new path and unified multiple disparate concepts into a physical framework that would last hundreds of years.
Newton is primarily seen as a man who pioneered new theories. Equally important though was his ability to deconstruct other concepts and identify errors they presented. Two of the most notable examples of this are his refutation of Aristotelian physics and his significant modifications to Copernican heliocentrism. While both theories offered valuable insight, they suffered from overly presumptive leaps from demonstrated science to wishful thinking.
Aristotelian physics was a landmark theory in its own right. Aristotle is widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the classic Greek period and his concepts of what construction and mechanics of the physical world persisted for over 1500 years. The achievement of a comprehensive system that unified theories of the great minds of his period was tainted by bold assumptions and pseudo-science which is still embarrassingly common even in our era of understanding.
Aristotle’s first factual deviation was his theory of what the universe was composed of. Aristotle taught that the area of the universe humans inhabited was the terrestrial sphere. This sphere consisted of 4 prime elements or spheres; earth, water, fire, and air. Newton argued in Principia II that he believed with appropriate microscopes we might see atomic corpuscles. While we had no institutional knowledge of atoms or the periodic table Newton understood that Aristotle’s terrestrial sphere was incorrect.
Aristotle also believed the cosmos consisted of celestial spheres. Aristotle also argued these celestial spheres were guided through the sky by “unmoved movers”, or ethereal objects which indirectly influence celestial spheres along their perfectly circular routes. Newton’s theory of gravity and calculations on planetary orbits removed the magic of unmoved and prime movers from the cosmos and accounted for movement without requiring mystic forces.
In the tradition of most scientific theories, Nicolaus Copernicus provided an elegant, comprehensive theory about the motion of the Cosmos which modified and combined the efforts of countless great thinkers before him. The Copernican heliocentric model placed the Sun and not the Earth near the center of the universe, refuting the widely accepted Ptolemaic model that the entirety of the universe rotated around a stationary Earth. However, while Copernicus argued against the central tenant of the Ptolemaic theory, he did incorporate some key explanations from the model which ultimately helped invalidate his theory.
Ptolemy, Copernicus, and many other scientists still adhered to the Aristotelian concept of unseen objects in the sky moving the celestial bodies. Ptolemy argued in favor of epicycles. Instead of mystic forces in the sky, epicycles were systems of circular belts that drove objects along their paths in perfect circles at constant speeds.
This idea was so prevalent that over 1500 years later Copernicus incorporated the concept into his heliocentric model. Again, it took Newton’s measurements of elliptical orbits and theory of gravity to provide concrete evidence against epicycles and ultimately demonstrate the faulty assumptions of the prevailing heliocentric models.
While Newton was occasionally involved in upending overly presumptuous science, his greater contribution was through providing proof for his revolutionary theories. It requires significant intelligence to create an elegant theory, but it takes a unique genius to provide proof for that theory. We celebrate pre-Newtonian scientists for making the best with the information they had and filling in the gaps as they saw fit.
Newton’s academic rigor changed the scientific landscape. It stopped being enough to propose a model that incorporated a mix of observation and speculation. Now to be considered a serious scientist you could only measure data and make conclusions based on that evidence. The age of superstition and mysticism was coming to an end.
One of Newton’s fundamental discoveries was his 3 laws of motion. The 3 laws were mathematic concepts that provided formulas describing acceleration, force, and inertia. The first law deals with inertia, stating “Every object stays at rest or motion unless acted on by an external force.”
His second law deals with force, which states “The force acting on a body is defined as the rate of change of its linear momentum, with time.” Lastly, his third law is concerned with action and reaction, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Together, these 3 laws became the foundation for our understanding of modern physics.
Newton also sought answers to orbits of celestial bodies. The widely known story of Isaac Newton contemplating the nature of the universe under an apple tree and being struck on the head by a falling apple is likely apocryphal. His law of gravitation however is certain. The law elegantly described how bodies are attracted to each other without requiring prime movers or equants.
Newton’s law of gravity states “Every particle of matter attracts every other particle with a force along the straight line joining them and is directly proportional to their masses, while inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.” In essence, his law described the attraction between distinct bodies, while accounting for changes in acceleration due to mass and distance between them.
If the law of gravitation itself wasn’t enough, Newton provided mathematic proofs for Johannes Kepler’s 3 laws of planetary motion, which Kepler intuitively understood but couldn’t explain. Kepler’s laws described elliptical orbits of planets, which broke from a millennia-old belief that planets ascribed to perfect circular orbits. It is a true testament to Newton’s genius that he was able to understand Kepler’s laws more fully than Kepler himself.
Newton wasn’t content to simply revolutionize astronomy. He was also consumed by a desire to further human understanding of what light was. Prior to Newton, science held that light was the absence of color, and that color was an intrinsic property of objects. More simply, things were red because they were red. Through the development of new lenses and the employment of prisms, Newton began to scatter light. What he discovered is that a white light beam is in fact composed of an entire spectrum of light. White light wasn’t the absence of color; it was the presence of all colors.
He also discovered that objects presented a specific color through selectively absorbing and reflecting colors along the visible spectrum. This understanding led to a theory that would take hundreds of years to offer demonstrable proof. By combining red light, which sits on one end of the visible spectrum, with violet which is on the other, Newton “created” magenta, which he dubbed a “non-natural color of light.” This led to his theory that the perception of color is largely subjective and that humans may interpret the same color differently.
His other forward-thinking theory dealt with the nature of light itself. There was no single accepted theory on what light actually was. Newton proposed the concept of light consisting of tiny corpuscles, similar to blood cells. While Huygens proved the theory itself wrong, the concept of light as discrete packets was revisited by Einstein, with his photons being the current theory regarding the composition of light.
Newton’s most significant contribution lay in his groundbreaking 3 volume treatise Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Shortened by his peers to simply The Principia, the volumes were accepted shortly after their distribution as one of the most significant scientific publications in history. In Principia Volume II Newton introduced geometric expressions that he would later pioneer with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz into a new field of mathematics known as Calculus.
This was significant for a number of factors. Calculus was able to rapidly and accurately calculate rates of change in the movement of objects. Prior to the expressions, astronomers relied on the mathematic method of exhaustion, which relied on slowly narrowing in on a correct answer through exhaustive trial and error. Calculus also began to demonstrate commonality between previously separate fields of math such as linear algebra and analytic geometry.
More important than calculus on its own, the Principia simultaneously invalidated previous theories while unifying numerous separate scientific concepts and laws to establish a physical framework that became known as classical mechanics. Newton presented a master course on hydromechanics, the movement of fluids. His work on was used to disprove Descartes widely debated Cartesian Model, which claimed heavenly bodies traveled through space along with fluid vortices.
Newton provided the capstone effort of numerous great minds before him, taking portions of Copernicus’s solar model, Brahe’s remarkably precise celestial measurements, and Kepler’s laws of motion. The Principia became so influential among the scientific community that in addition to providing a comprehensive unified physical theory of the universe, it laid out a foundation for new fields of science and inspired scientists to pursue entirely new concepts.
Sir Isaac Newton was known to be such a remarkable intellectual during his lifetime that he occupied an astonishing number of social and governmental positions. He served as the 2nd Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, an elected member of the English Parliament, and was knighted by the Queen.
In his later years, he was selected as the President of the Royal Society and was chosen to serve as the Warden and later, Master of the English Royal Mint, where he designed revolutionary anti-counterfeit techniques on English currency. His research, theories, and publications dwarfed the contributions of an entire generation of his peers. Sir Isaac Newton’s genius and importance in his era and the centuries after cannot be overstated. He was one of the greatest minds to ever live.
Isaac Newton was born January 4th, 1643 in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. Isaac Newton came from a family of farmers but he never did know his real dad because he died three months before he was born. His father owned property and animals which made him a very wealthy man.
His father was also very uneducated and could not even sign his own name. Isaac’s mother’s name was Hannah Ayscough but was changed when she married Barnabas Smith. When Isaac was two years old he was given to his grandma to take care of him. He did not live a happy childhood. In 1653 he moved back with his mom, grandma, one half-brother, and two half-sisters.
He began attending school in Grantham. When he was in school he did not do so good but he had a passion for learning. He was a sizar. A sizar was a student who received an allowance toward college expenses in exchange for acting as a severt towards the other students.
He said at the university teaching math. Isaac was one of the oldest in his grade. In 1661 he entered Cambridge University and then was hired as a professor of Mathematics in 1669. He had one of the most brilliant minds. Legend has it that seeing an apple fall gave Newton the idea that gravity, the force which keeps us bound to the earth, also controls the motion of the moon and stars.
Isacc Newton’s help to science included the universal law of gravity, laws of optics, and the development of calculus. He is also famous for his book he wrote, this book was called “Principia Mathematica”. This book talked about the different types of math that he wanted to teach. Isaac also talked about the laws of motion, in which one person relates an object’s mass and acceleration to the force being applied to it.
Isaac Newton was a very smart math teacher who was criticized for is work because he was devoted to his work and not many people believed in his study of math. Isaac Newton died alone in 1727 with no kids and lived modestly.
Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642, in Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, England. Newton is clearly the most influential scientist who ever lived. His accomplishments in mathematics, optics, and physics laid the foundations for modern science and revolutionized the world.
Newton studied at Cambridge and was a professor there from 1669 to 1701, succeeding his teacher Isaac Barrow as Lucasian professor of mathematics. His most important discoveries were made during the two-year period from 1664 to 1666 when the university was closed and he retired to his hometown of Woolsthorpe.
At that time he discovered the law of universal gravitation, began to develop the calculus, and discovered that white light is composed of all the colors of the spectrum. These findings enabled him to make fundamental contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and theoretical and experimental physics.
Newton summarized his discoveries in terrestrial and celestial mechanics in his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (mathematical principles of natural philosophy) in 1687, one of the greatest milestones in the history of science. In it, he showed how his principle of universal gravitation provided an explanation both of falling bodies on the earth and of the motions of planets, comets, and other bodies in the heavens.
The first part of the Principia is devoted to dynamics and includes Newton’s three famous laws of motion; the second part to fluid motion and other topics; and the third part to the system of the world, for example, the unification of terrestrial and celestial mechanics under the principle of gravitation and the explanation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. Although Newton used the calculus to discover his results, he explained them in the Principia by use of older geometric methods.
Newton’s discoveries in optics were presented in his Opticks in 1704, in which he elaborated his theory that light is composed of corpuscles or particles. His corpuscular theory dominated optics until the early 19th century when it was replaced by the wave theory of light.
The two theories were combined in the modern quantum theory. Among his other accomplishments was his construction of a reflecting telescope in 1668 and his anticipation of the calculus of variations, founded by Gottfried Leibniz and the Bernoullis. In later years, Newton considered mathematics and physics a recreation and turned much of his energy toward alchemy, theology, and history, particularly problems of chronology.
Newton was his university’s representative in Parliament from 1689–90 and 1701–2 and was president of the Royal Society from 1703 until his death. He was made warden of the mint in 1696 and master in 1699, being knighted in 1705 in recognition of his services at the mint as much as for his scientific accomplishments.
Although Newton was known as an open and generous person, at various times in his life he became involved in quarrels and controversies. The most notable was his dispute with Leibniz over which of them had first invented calculus; today they have jointly ascribed the honor.
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