The Life of Sir Isaac Newton
To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction
The Life of Isaac
Sir Isaac Newton was born in 1642 in Woolsthorpe, United Kingdom. English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, most famous for his law of gravitation, which was instrumental in the scientific revolution of the 17th century. Newton transformed the structure of physical science with his three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. In 1687, Newton published Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, what is widely regarded to be one of the important books in the history of science.
Discoveries of Isaac
- Three Laws of Motion:
There's no denying his impact on our modern understanding of physics. Just as he nailed the fundamental workings of gravity in his law of universal gravitation, so too did he cut to the core of motion itself in his three laws of motion in 1687. Here's how they all break down:
An object will remain at rest or moving in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.
When force is applied to an object, it will accelerate (Force = mass x acceleration).
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
It's easy to take these three laws for granted, yet scholars wrestled with the fundamental concepts of motion for centuries.
Whether your high school calculus class blew your mind or crushed your spirit, you can blame it all on Isaac Newton. See, mathematics is the system by which we gauge the inter-working of the cosmos, but like many scientists of his age, Newton found that existing algebra and geometry simply weren't sufficient for his scientific needs. Let that sink in for a moment: Existing math wasn't advanced enough for Newton.
Mathematicians of the day could calculate the speed of a ship, but they couldn't figure out the rate at which the ship was accelerating. They could measure the angle of a sailing cannonball, but they had no way of calculating which angle would send the cannonball the farthest. What they needed was a mathematical means to calculate problems that involved changing variables.
Newton was born into an age of lackluster telescopes. Even the better models used a set of glass lenses to magnify an image. Through his experiments with colors, Newton knew the lenses refracted different colors at different angles, creating a fuzzy image for the viewer.
As an improvement, Newton proposed the use of reflecting mirrors rather than refracting lenses. A large mirror would capture the image, then a smaller mirror would bounce it into the viewer's eye. Not only does this method produce a clearer image, it also allows for a much smaller telescope.
Granted, a Scottish mathematician proposed the idea of a reflecting telescope first, but Newton was the guy who actually mustered the energy to build one. Grinding the mirrors himself, Newton assembled a prototype and presented it to the Royal Society in 1670. Merely 6 inches (15 centimeters) long, the device eliminated color refraction and boasted 40x magnification.
To this day, nearly all astronomical observatories use a variant of Newton's original design.
Sources and Citations
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