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Isaac Newton Essay, Research Paper

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Newton was born on December 25, 1642, in a little English village of Woolsthorpe, near England. Throughout his life, Newton discovered and published many of his theories, inventions, and ideas (Spielvogel, 354).

Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, astronomer, and a physicist. He is considered one of the greatest scientists in history. He made important contributions to many fields of science. His discoveries and theories laid the foundation for much of the progress in science. Newton was one of the inventors of a mathematics called calculus. He also solved the mysteries of light and optics, formulated the three laws of motion, and derived from them the law of universal gravitation (www.Britannica.com).

Newton is sometimes described as one of the greatest names in the history of human thought (Jacob 388). As a boy, he was more interested in making mechanical devices than in studying. Some of young Newton s inventions included a small windmill that could grind wheat and corn, a water clock run by the force of dropping water, and a sundial. He left school at the age of 14 to help his widowed mother with the family farm (Jacob 390). It was assumed he would continue in the farming tradition of his family, but finally his mother became convinced that he should be prepared for entry to university. He attended Trinity College at Cambridge. Newton showed no particular promise in his early years, but Isaac Barrow who held the Lucasian chair of mathematics, gave him much encouragement.

In 1664 the Great Plague broke out in London, and the university was closed down the following year (North, 10). At home during the plague years, he studied the

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nature of light and the construction of telescopes. By a variety of experiments upon sunlight refracted through a prism, he concluded that rays of light, which differ in color, also differ in irrefrangibility – a discovery that suggested that the indistinctness of the image formed by the object glass of telescopes was due to the different-colored rays of light being brought to a focus at different distances (Schuster, 173). On his return to Cambridge in 1667, Newton became a Fellow of Trinity College, and in 1668 he took his MA.

Newton laid the foundation for the science of spectrum analysis. He studied and explained why bodies appear to be colored. His studies of light and color had major implications in astronomy as they allowed for the determination of chemical composition, temperature, and speed of distant stars. Newton also made observations of sunlight and how it is a mixture of all colors. The study of light led to the construction of his first reflecting telescope (Jacob, 389).

During the plague years, Newton developed differential and integral calculus, several years before its independent discovery by the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz (Schuster, 173). Newton developed many techniques and methods for calculus and general mathematics. Even though Newton could not fully explain and justify his methods, he is accredited with the development of powerful techniques of problem solving and analysis in mathematics and physics. Isaac Barrow, a Fellow of Trinity College and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the university, was so impressed by Newton s achievements that when he resigned his chair in 1669 to

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devote himself to theology, he recommended that the 27-year-old Newton should take his place (Schuster, 173).

Newton made great advancements in the scientific realm. His theories of motion and gravity are still looked upon with the highest degree of admiration and are still used in today s learning institutes. Newton claimed that the idea of universal force came to him while he was alone in the country, avoiding the outbreak of the plague in the city of Cambridge. Newton came up with the idea that every pair of bodies in the universe attracts each other. The attracting force depends on the amount of matter in the bodies and the distance between the bodies (Jacob, 388).

Newton devised three major laws of motion: Law I. Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it. Law II. The change of motion is proportional to the motive force impressed. It is made in the direction of the straight line in which the force is impressed. Law III. To every action there is always an opposite and equal reaction (Spielvogel, 355).

Newton s discoveries on the laws of motion and the theories of gravitation were published in 1687 in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). This work, usually called Principia or Principia Mathematica, is considered one of the greatest single contributions in the history of science. It includes Newton s laws of motion and theory of gravitation. It was the first

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book to contain a unified system of scientific principles explaining what happens on earth and in the heavens (Jacob, 389). Queen Anne knighted Isaac Newton in 1705, making him Sir Isaac Newton. He died in 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

In conclusion, Isaac Newton made many great contributions and discoveries throughout his 85 years of existence. He is considered one of the smartest people to ever live. His life and contributions extend much further beyond the writings of this paper. This paper merely scratched the surface of Newton s life. It is difficult to write a short paper on one of the greatest people to ever live.

Newton is by far one of the most significant contributors of ideas and theories to the advancement of knowledge and learning. His great discoveries left us with a unified system of laws that could be applied to an enormous range of physical phenomena. These applications let Newton predict precisely the motion of the stars, and the planets around the sun. Newton’s book the Principia is still recognized as the greatest scientific book ever written.


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