By William Brant
Sir Isaac Newton was a well known English mathematician and physicist during the 17th century. The 17th century is best known for the scientific revolution, the discoverance and use of “modern” science. During this period, Newton became one of the most respected and influential figures with his theories on gravity, the creation of calculus and numerous published papers on optics. Newton’s intelligence was recognizable at a young age and continued to amaze the world for years to come.
Sir Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, England on January 4th, 1643. He was the son of Isaac Newton and Hannah Ayscough, but his father died three months before his birth (Isaac Newton). Two years after Newton’s birth, his mother decided to remarry to a local minister, Barabas Smith (Sir Isaac Newton). With his mother leaving to marry the minister, baby Isaac was left with his mom’s mother, his grandmother to tend to him (Sir Isaac Newton). Nine years eclipsed by for young Newton until his mother came back into his life after the death of her second husband (Sir Isaac Newton). He then received an education equivalent to modern day high school at King’s School in Grantham (Isaac Newton). During this period, Isaac learned basic math and literature but his potential was soon realized. His uncle, a professor at Cambridge’s Trinity College, convinced his mother to allow Newton to attend the university to continue his education since he recognized Newton’s brilliance (Isaac Newton).
At the university, Newton studied basic courses until he realized he had a taste for hard and challenging science (Isaac Newton). Also, he began his notes, called “Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae”, that are a huge part of the scientific revolution (Isaac Newton). This is when he first began to be the Isaac Newton we think of today. After the four years at the university, Newton got the financial support from Cambridge he needed to go back and continue studying. (Isaac Newton). In the year 1665, Cambridge had to close their doors due to the Black Plague spreading rapidly throughout Europe to try to contain it (Isaac Newton).
For the next eighteen months, Newton continues his research at his home and comes up with his first big discovery, Calculus (Isaac Newton). It is also said this is the time period when Sir Isaac Newton discovers gravity with the legendary moment of the apple falling from the tree in front of him (Isaac Newton). Those are two humongous accomplishments that happen within the eighteen month time period that the college is shut down. Soon after the college resumed, Newton’s brilliance was recognized with his knowledge of infinite series getting recognized by the the mathematical community (Isaac Newton). He assumed the role of professor not long after (Isaac Newton). As a professor, Newton loved to work with optics and telescopes. Newton created his reflecting telescope, in 1668, which greatly improved his work with optics (Isaac Newton). He then demonstrated his work with optics in front of the Royal Society, a group of mathematicians and scientists, who encouraged him to publish the work (Isaac Newton). After this, Edmond Halley convinced Newton to spend time and do the mathematical work to prove the motion and shape of the orbit of a planet is an eclipse (Isaac Newton). He worked for eighteen months on this and eventually published “Mathematical Principles’ of Natural Philosophy”, most commonly referred to as “Principia” (Isaac Newton). This work became internationally accepted and rose Newton to being one of the greatest scientists and mathematician of all time (Isaac Newton).
After this, he slowly began to seek governmental positions and influence instead of scientific answers (Isaac Newton). He eventually got the position of warden of the Mint and became the president of the Royal Society (Isaac Newton). In his later years, he became famous and wealthy (Isaac Newton). Sir Isaac Newton eventually died on March 31, in 1727, at the age of 84 (Isaac Newton).
Sir Isaac Newton’s contributions to the field of mathematics and science are the cornerstones to many math and science topics today. Newton created the laws of gravity, helped progress optics, published works in his paper called Principia, and created calculus (History.com). All of those contributed in their respective fields to help bring science and math up to modern means.
Principia, the Mathematical Principles’ of Natural Philosophy, is Newton’s published work on planetary movement (Isaac Newton). With the paper being “Said to be the most influential book on physics and possibly all of science (Isaac Newton),” the publication “contains nearly all of the essential concepts of physics, except energy. (Isaac Newton).” In his published work, Newton described his laws of gravity and motion that helped him “explain not only elliptical planetary orbits but nearly every other motion in the universe (Isaac Newton).” This published work is still used and considered correct today, nearly 300 years later.
Sir Isaac Newton supposedly came up with gravity when he was sitting below an apple tree and he watched an apple fall. Being the scientific guy he was, he wanted an explanation of why that happens. Within the eighteen months that he was describing planetary movement, Newton came up with laws of gravity and motion (Isaac Newton). The three laws of gravity and motion are that an object will stay at rest until an outside force acts upon it, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. These three laws are the basis of physics used today. They may also be the three most popular laws of science in history.
During the eighteen month period where the college was shut down, Newton discovered and created calculus to help him describe planetary motion (Isaac Newton). Newton needed to use limits, infinite series, integrals, derivatives, and limits to describe the motions (Sir Isaac Newton). At this time period, calculus was called infinitesimal calculus (Isaac Newton). As you can probably realize, this is a humongous contribution to mathematics as calculus is used in most engineering concepts to provide stable structures like bridges and buildings.
Also during the eighteen month period, Newton began working with optics (Isaac Newton). After arriving back at the college, Newton constructed his own reflecting telescope that was accepted by the Royal Society (Isaac Newton). He was the first to describe and understand white light by refracting white light to see other colors on the spectrum scale (Isaac Newton). This is also still widely accepted and used material today.
Sir Isaac Newton had a rough childhood with his mom leaving and his father dying before his birth. Newton overcame these troubles and became one of the most respected and influential scientist and mathematician in the world. His works in optics, gravity, and calculus are all still widely accepted in the scientific community. Out of all of his contributions, the laws of gravity are the most important since they describe any single motion in the universe.
"Isaac Newton." Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 30 Apr. 2017. <http://www.biography.com/people/isaac-newton-9422656>.
"Sir Isaac Newton." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2017. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Isaac-Newton>.
History.com Staff. "Isaac Newton." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.