Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642 in Woolsthorpe, near Lincolnshire. He was a famous mathematician and physicist who made many contributions in the progress of science. Newton, along with Gottfried Leibniz invented the branch of math called calculus. In the summer of 1661, he was sent to Trinity College at the University of Cambridge where he received his bachelor’s degree. In 1667, he returned there, after taking two years off, and got his master’s degree.

Newton’s first major 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, and he saw that the two procedures were inverse operations. By joining them in what he calls the fluxional method, he developed calculus. Although Newton invented calculus he didn’t introduce it to Europe. In 1675, Leibniz figured the same thing and told Europe about calculus.

Newton was always afraid of criticism and publication so he kept all of his discoveries to himself. However, enough was known about his abilities to appoint him as a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Another area of Newton’s early interests was optics. When he tried explaining how colors occur, he concluded that sunlight is a heterogeneous blend of different rays and that reflections cause colors to appear by separating that blend into its components.

He demonstrated this by passing a beam of sunlight through a prism which separated the beam into different colors. Newton is probably best known for discovering universal gravitation, which explains all bodies in space and on earth are affected by the force called gravity. He published his theory in his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Not only was Newton interested in science and math, he also showed interest in alchemy, mysticism, and theology. Newton died in 1727.


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