Famous Scientist – Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton developed calculus, natural forces, and optics. Newton was born on Christmas Day in 1642. His father had died before he was born, but he was still given his father’s name (Westfall 17).

Isaac stayed with his grandparents when his mother went to live with her second husband. While living with his grandparents he attended day school nearby (Westfall 17).

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After his grandmother died and Newton was seventeen, his mother took him out of school and brought him back to the family farm. She tried to teach him how to run the farm and manage the estate; this was a failure. In all of his spare time he returned to inventing and building machines. Newton’s uncle and old schoolmaster saw that he was in the wrong trade and urged his mother to prepare him to attend the University. His uncle’s efforts paid off; in 1660 he returned to Grantham to finish grammar school and prepare for the university. In June of 1661 Newton entered Trinity College, Cambridge (Westfall 17).

At Cambridge Newton studied mathematics. This is when Newton first started to make many discoveries. He made most of his important discoveries there: pure mathematics, theory of gravitation, and optics, all before he even graduated college. Newton made contributions to all branches of mathematics. Modern study of aerodynamics and the science of hydrodynamics would be impossible without the principles of the calculus. Newton wrote Philosophiae Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), which is usually known by the last two words. “In the book Newton codified Galileo’s findings into the three laws of motion.” (Wilson online).

Newton formulated three laws of motion, and resulting from them the law of universal gravitation. His laws of motion are the natural laws of mechanics. Newton’s three laws of motion are: 1. The law of Inertia- an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. 2. 2nd Law- an unbalanced force applied to an object will result in the acceleration if the object. There was an equation that went along with this law which is F=ma. This means force equals mass times acceleration. 3. 3rd Law- for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.

Isaac Newton died in 1727. He was thought to be the greatest genius that ever lived by a French mathematical astronomer.

1.Westfall, Richard S. The Life of Isaac Newton. New York. Cambridge University Press. 1993. 1-18.

2.Wilson, Fred L. “Newton.” History of Science. Rochester Institute of Technology. 20 October 1999.


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