Isaac Newton was a well-known English scientist. He accomplished a lot during his time and influenced the world a great deal. He is considered to have contributed more to science than any other person. His life can be divided into three periods. The first one was his early childhood, he second was the time of his accomplishments, and the third is his later life. Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642 in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. His family was poor and his parents farmed for a living. His father died three months before he was born.
His mother later remarried a minister and Newton went to stay with his grandmother. He attended a grammar school at the age of eleven, but did not do well. His teachers said that he did not pay attention. His mother then decided to pull him out of school and put him in charge of her properties. Newton decided that he did not want to do this, and, with the help of his uncle, Newton convinced his mother to let him return to school. Stokes, the headmaster of the school, saw that Newton had potential, therefore, he put extra time into tutoring, guiding and mentoring Newton (O’Connor & Robertson 1-2).
Newton entered Cambridge College on June 5, 1661. He was older than most of the students there and entered as a sizar (a student who received money for college expenses in exchange for being a servant to other students). He wanted to major in law. At Cambridge he studied the philosophies of Aristotle and many other philosophist. During his third year he learned about the philosophies of Descartes, Gassending, but mostly of Boyle. He also read book about Copernicus and his relation to astronomy as well as Galileo and Kepler.
Newton became fascinated by the ideas of these scientists. He began recording his thought in a book, which was called Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae. He received his bachelor’s degree in April 1665 (O’Connor & Robertson 2-3). Newton made many accomplishments during his lifetime. His major accomplishments in the fields of math, physics, and optics are well known. For his accomplishment in math, he is considered to have invented Calculus. Although his works of Calculus were not published before a man name Leibniz, but Newton is still considered as the inventor of Calculus.
Newton discovered the Binomial Theorem, which was used for fractional powers (Weinstein 2). He also developed many analytical ways to solve many problems such as: find areas, tangents, lengths of curves, and the maxima and minima of functions (O’Connor & Robertson 3). As mathematician, Newton and Leibniz invented differential calculus. He also calculated a formula for finding the velocity of sound in a gas, which was later corrected by Laplace (Chew 1). Newton made many contributions to the field of physics. He developed the three laws of motion. The first was the law of inertia.
This law stated that objects in motion would continue to move in that direction at a constant velocity unless an outside force acts upon it. His second law stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Finally, his third law sate that forces causes masses to accelerate. As the acceleration increases the force increases as well. They are directly proportion to each other. Newton is considered to come up with the theory of universal gravitation. This is not totally true, but he did contribute to it. Newton made a huge impact on theoretical astronomy.
He defined the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which he used to predict precisely the motions of stars, and the planets around the sun. Using his discoveries in optics Newton constructed the first reflecting telescope (Chew1). Other accomplishments that Newton made in the physics field were discovering the law about centrifugal force on body that is moving in a circular path. He did not totally understand the idea of circular motion. In 1666 Newton’s main idea was that the Earth’s gravity influenced the moon, therefore counterbalancing it’s centrifugal force.
From this and Kelpler’s law of planetary motion, Newton came up with the inverse-square law (O’Connor & Robertson 5). Newton made many accomplishments to the physics field. Newton wrote many books during his time. One of his most famous was Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Newton had a mental breakdown in 1675 and was still recovering in 1679. His friend, a man by the name of Halley, was interested in orbits and; therefore, he convinced Newton to publish his works. From August 1684 to the spring of 1686, Newton devoted his time into doing this.
Finally, in 1687, a book was published called Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. There were three parts to this book. The first contained definitions and talked about the three laws of motion. The three laws that were discussed are the law of inertia, the law of action and reaction, and the theory of how acceleration was proportion to force. The second part contained Newton’s new scientific theory, and the third part included an explanation for why tides occur and the theory of lunar motion.
The book also contained his set of four rules for scientific reasoning. The first one is “we are to admit no more causes of natural things such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. ” The second rule was “the same natural effects must be assigned to the same causes. ” The third rule stated, “ qualities of bodies are to be esteemed as universal,” and the fourth rule stated, “ propositions deduced from observation of phenomena should be viewed as accurate until other phenomena contradict them,” (Weinstein 1-2).
Newton followed these four rules when conducting experiments and investigating. Newton wrote another famous book in 1704 called Optics. In this book Newton talked about how he observed that white light could be separated by a prism into a spectrum of different colors. Each of the colors would have a different refractivity. He performed many experiments at Cambridge. In one of his experiments he found out that the image that a prism produced was not circular like current theories of light required, but was oval-shaped.
In this experiment, he observed a half-red, half-blue string through a prism and saw the ends were disjointed. He observed Newton’s rings, which was actually a materialization of the wave nature of light. Newton did not believe in the materialization of the wave nature of light. He believed that light has to move faster in medium when it is refracted. Newton’s discoveries about light were a major contribution to the science field (Weinstein 2). Newton spent most of his later portion of his life devoted to alchemical researches and trying to date events in the Bible.
He was appointed Warden of the British Mint in 1695 and was knighted by Queen Anne (Weinstein 3). He died in 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He is the first scientist with this honor. After his death, it was discovered that he had extremely large amounts of mercury in his body. Many say this could be a result of his alchemical pursuits (Weinstein 3). He is considered to be one of the most influential scientists who ever lived. His accomplishments in mathematics, optics, and physics laid the fundamentals for modern science and changed the world.