The Life and Times of Issac Newton

In 1642 on Christmas Day an English mathematician, astronomer, and natural philosopher was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. Baby Isaac was born so premature that is was said he could fit into a quart pot. Newtons father who was a yeoman farmer died a few moths before Isaac was born. It was said that Isaac was to carry on the paternal farm when old enough. When Isaac was three his mother, Hannah Ayscough, married a clergyman from North Witham, the next village, and went to live with him leaving Isaac to live with his grandmother, Margery Ayscough.

Treated like an orphan, Isaac did not have a very happy childhood. After eight years of marriage, his stepfather died and his mother came back with her three small children. Two years later Newton attended grammar school at Grantham. He lodged with the local apothecary where was fascinated with all the chemicals. His learning in school got the attention of many people. As a child, Isaac Newton had invented three things, which included a windmill that could grind wheat and corn, a water clock that was powered by water-drops, and a sundial, which can be seen today in the house in which he was born.

At the age of fourteen he left school to help his mother take care of the farm but he was so busy reading, solving problems, making experiments, and devising mechanical models that his mother noticing this thought he need a more congenial job. His uncle who was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, recommended he should be sent there. In 1661, Isaac began his college life at Trinity College where he received his first degree in 1665. Newton lived here at Trinity from 1661 until 1696; during this time, he produced the bulk of his work in Mathematics.

Also, during the year 1665 a plague broke out in Cambridge, which shut it down for parts of the year in 1665 and 1666. For these several months, Newton returned home. This period was crowded with great discoveries by Newton. He had begun to do regular work, and in the next two years, he discovered the binomial theorem, the method of tangents, and other important mathematical principles. When he was elected to join the Royal Society in 1672, it showed that he was highly regarded.

For the last twenty-four years for his life, he served as president for the Royal Society. Also, in 1672 Newton published his first scientific paper on light and color in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Newton graduated in 1665 and four years later was appointed professor of the math at Cambridge University. Newton was a bachelor who preferred to spend his time in study. In regards to all this studying Newton was best known for formulating the laws of gravity. It was one of the most important contributions in the history of natural science.

Newtons first major public scientific achievement was the invention of the telescope. He designed and constructed it, ground his own mirror, built the tube and even made his own tools for the job. Newton also proved that white light was a combination of all the colors of the rainbow put together by shining a light threw a prism into a dark room. He invented a telescope and other things to be of great value to astronomers. Newton also made great discoveries in the world of math. He gave symbolic mathematics the name universal arithmetic.

He is known for inventing calculus. This branch of mathematics is divided into two parts integral and differential calculus. Integral Calculus is used for measuring quantities by dividing them into many small parts, and Differential Calculus deals with the rates at which things change. His greatest work, which established the fundamental law of modern physics, was the Philosophical Naturalis Principia Mathematica, or the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. This book was known as the Principia.

In 1687, it was published at the expense of Newtons friend, Edmund Halley, the astronomer. Newton hated the confrontations that came with the discoveries so he did not publish any of his work. His friends had to beg him to do it or as Edmund did do it themselves. In 1693, Newton had a mental breakdown after the huge efforts he put into the Principia. Newton had another book. Published in 1704, was the book Optiks. It contained information on calculus and other mathematics. Newton, knighted in 1705 by Queen Anne became the first scientist to ever be knighted.

Newton died at Kensington, London, on March 20, 1727and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Engraved on his tomb is the Latin inscription, Mortals! Rejoice at so great an ornament to the human race! A book was written by Richard Westfall, Cambridge 1993 about Newton called The Life of Isaac Newton. Newton was sometimes called: the culminating figure in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. There is no exaggeration in saying that Newton is the single most contributor in the development of modern science.


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