Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician
and physicist, 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 a 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. Newton
was born on December 25, 1642, at
Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire.

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When he was three years old, he was put in care
of his Grandmother. He then was sent to grammar
school in Grantham. Then later he attended Trinity
College at the University of Cambridge. Newton
ignored much of the established curriculum of the
university to pursue his own interests; mathematics
and natural philosophy. Proceeding entirely on his
own, he investigated the latest developments in
mathematics and the new natural philosophy that
treated nature as a complicated machine. Almost
immediately, still under the age of 25, he made
fundamental discoveries that were instrumental in
his career science. The Fluxional Method,
Newton’s first achievement was in mathematics.

He generalized the methods that were being used
to draw tangents to curves and to calculate the
area swept by curves. He recognized that the two
procedures were inverse operations. By joining
them in what he called the fluxional method,
Newton developed in 1666 a kind of mathematics
that is known as calculus. Calculus was a new and
powerful method that carried modern mathematics
above the level of Greek geometry. Optics was
another area of Newton’s early interests. In trying
to explain how colors occur, he arrived at the idea
that sunlight is a heterogeneous blend of different
colors of which represents a different color. And
that reflections, and refraction’s cause colors to
appear by separating the blend into its
components. Newton demonstrated his theory of
colors by passing a beam of sunlight through a
type of prism, which split the beam into separate
colors. In August 1684 Newton was visited by
Edmund Halley, the British astronomer and
mathematician, who discussed with Newton the
problem of orbital motion. Newton had also
pursued the science of mechanics as an
undergraduate, and at that time he had already
entertained basic notions about universal
gravitation. As result of Halley’s visit, Newton
returned to these studies. During the next three
years, Newton established the modern science of
dynamics by formulating his three laws of motion.

Newton applied these laws to Kepler’s laws of
orbital motion, and derived the law of universal
gravitation. Newton is probably best known for
discovering universal gravitation, which explains
that all bodies in space and on earth are affected
by the force called gravity. He published this
theory in his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia
Mathematica or Principia as it was called, in 1687.

This book marked a turning point in the history of
science; it also ensured that its author could never
regain his privacy. The Principia’s appearance also
involved Newton in an unpleasant episode with the
English philosopher and physicist, Robert Hooke.

In 1687 Hooke claimed that Newton had stolen
from him a central idea of the book: that bodies
attract each other with a force that varies inversely
as the square of their distance. However, most
historians do not accept Hooke’s charge of
plagiarism. The following four years were filled
with intense activity for Newton. With the success
of the Principia, he tried to put all his earlier
achievements into a final written form. In the
summer of 1693 Newton showed symptoms of a
severe emotional disorder. Although he regained
his health, his creative period had come to an end.

Sir Isaac Newton’s 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 the Principia is still
recognized as the greatest scientific book ever
written. And no, an apple never hit him on the


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