Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Isaac Newton: English physicist and mathematician

Born: December 25, 1642
Died‎: ‎ March 20, 1727
Isaac Newton was born prematurely in the manor house of the tiny village of Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, England, of Hannah Ayscough and Isaac. His father, who had died 3 months before Newton was born, was a yeoman farmer, who if not wealthy had sufficient means, and left a sizeable will. When Newton was 3 years old, his mother remarried the rector Barnabas Smith, from the next village 2 km away, leaving Newton to be raised by his grandparents.

He attended the King’s School in Grantham where he learned Latin among other things until the age of 17. In 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. He went to Cambridge University, intent on obtaining a law degree. Instruction at Cambridge was dominated by the philosophy of Aristotle but Newton also studied the philosophy of Descartes, Gassendi, Hobbes, and in particular Boyle. While at Cambridge he also became interested in mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy.

Sometime in late 1663 Newton also discovered mathematics- a subject not taught in any way at school, and barely at university. By 1664 he was buying various advanced books, which by Christmas 1664 included the works of Franz van Schootens, Descartes, and Wallis, on geometry, algebra, and infinite series. During this time period Newton seems to have absorbed much of the mathematics of his day, purely by solitary study, and become extremely interested in both pure mathematics and how it might be applied to the world.

Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician, who made seminal contributions to several domains of science, and was considered a leading scientist of his era and one of the most influential scientists of all time. 

Newton’s greatest achievement was his work in physics and celestial mechanics, which culminated in the theory of universal gravitation. By 1666, Newton had early versions of his three laws of motion. Using his discoveries in optics, Newton constructed the first reflecting telescope.  

His invention of the reflecting telescope brought fellowship in the Royal Society in 1671. A year later he published a letter in the Transactions of the Royal Society on his “new theory of light and colours.”

In 1667 he returned to Cambridge and became a fellow of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. In 1669, and at the age of 26, Newton became the Lucasian professor of mathematics. 
In 1704 Newton published his Opticks (in English), & the Latin translation in 1706. It was wildly popular.

In addition to his work on optics, Newton made seminal contributions to several other scientific disciplines. In his book the Principia or “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” which was published in 1687, Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation and is considered to have laid the foundations for classical mechanics. 

He also introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid, studied the speed of sound, and developed an empirical law of cooling among other major contributions made to scientific discovery. 

In 1705 he was knighted, the first scientist to be so honoured for his work.
Isaac Newton: English physicist and mathematician

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