Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who was Issac Newton? - Random Wednesday

Hey all my dear readers! :) I hope you all are doing just great! :D So my exams got over and it's Wednesday today, or in context of my blog I should rather say - Random Wednesday! :D Been discussing about people lately, I think it's a nice topic to continue. There are so many celebrities and great people we can talk about. To be frank and honest, I don't know much about either. So making such posts even helps me to increase my knowledge! LOL! hahaha! :D

So let's talk today about Issac Newton, oh! sorry, I mean Sir Issac Newton, an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian! WOW! :D

Sir Isaac Newton
(25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 )

Sir Issac Newton has been called as the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived. His monograph Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, lays the foundations for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws, by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the Scientific Revolution.

The Principia is generally considered to be one of the most important scientific books ever written, due, independently, to the specific physical laws the work successfully described, and for the style of the work, which assisted in setting standards for scientific publication down to the present time. Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours that form the visible spectrum. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound. In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of differential and integral calculus. He also demonstrated the generalised binomial theorem, developed Newton's method for approximating the roots of a function, and contributed to the study of power series. Newton's work on infinite series was inspired by Simon Stevin's decimals. Newton was also highly religious. He was an unorthodox Christian, and wrote more on Biblical hermeneutics and occult studies than on the subjects of science and mathematics. Newton secretly rejected Trinitarianism, fearing to be accused of refusing holy orders.

Isaac Newton was born on what is retroactively considered 4 January 1643(25th Dec. 1642 according to the old style calendar) at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. At the time of Newton's birth, England had not adopted the Gregorian calendar and therefore his date of birth was recorded as Christmas Day, 25 December 1642. Newton was born three months after the death of his father, a prosperous farmer also named Isaac Newton. Born prematurely, he was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug (≈ 1.1 litres). When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabus Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough. The young Isaac disliked his stepfather and held some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: "Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them." While Newton was once engaged in his late teens to a Miss Storey, he never married, being highly engrossed in his studies and work.


Newton's work has been said "to distinctly advance every branch of mathematics then studied". Newton had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared controversy and criticism. He had a very close relationship with Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, who from the beginning was impressed by Newton's gravitational theory. In 1691, Duillier planned to prepare a new version of Newton's Principia, but never finished it. However, in 1693 the relationship between the two men changed. At the time, Duillier had also exchanged several letters with Leibniz.

Starting in 1699, other members of the Royal Society (of which Newton was a member) accused Leibniz of plagiarism, and the dispute broke out in full force in 1711. The Royal Society proclaimed in a study that it was Newton who was the true discoverer and labelled Leibniz a fraud. This study was cast into doubt when it was later found that Newton himself wrote the study's concluding remarks on Leibniz. Thus began the bitter controversy which marred the lives of both Newton and Leibniz until the latter's death in 1716.

Newton is generally credited with the generalised binomial theorem, valid for any exponent. He discovered Newton's identities, Newton's method, classified cubic plane curves (polynomials of degree three in two variables), made substantial contributions to the theory of finite differences, and was the first to use fractional indices and to employ coordinate geometry to derive solutions to Diophantine equations. He approximated partial sums of the harmonic series by logarithms (a precursor to Euler's summation formula), and was the first to use power series with confidence and to revert power series.


From 1670 to 1672, Newton lectured on optics. During this period he investigated the refraction of light, demonstrating that a prism could decompose white light into a spectrum of colours, and that a lens and a second prism could recompose the multicoloured spectrum into white light. He also showed that the coloured light does not change its properties by separating out a coloured beam and shining it on various objects. Newton noted that regardless of whether it was reflected or scattered or transmitted, it stayed the same colour. Thus, he observed that colour is the result of objects interacting with already-coloured light rather than objects generating the colour themselves. This is known as Newton's theory of colour.

Mechanics and gravitation

In 1679, Newton returned to his work on (celestial) mechanics, i.e., gravitation and its effect on the orbits of planets, with reference to Kepler's laws of planetary motion. This followed stimulation by a brief exchange of letters in 1679–80 with Hooke, who had been appointed to manage the Royal Society's correspondence, and who opened a correspondence intended to elicit contributions from Newton to Royal Society transactions. Newton's reawakening interest in astronomical matters received further stimulus by the appearance of a comet in the winter of 1680–1681, on which he corresponded with John Flamsteed. After the exchanges with Hooke, Newton worked out a proof that the elliptical form of planetary orbits would result from a centripetal force inversely proportional to the square of the radius vector (see Newton's law of universal gravitation – History and De motu corporum in gyrum). Newton communicated his results to Edmond Halley and to the Royal Society in De motu corporum in gyrum, a tract written on about 9 sheets which was copied into the Royal Society's Register Book in December 1684. This tract contained the nucleus that Newton developed and expanded to form the Principia.

The Principia was published on 5 July 1687 with encouragement and financial help from Edmond Halley. In this work, Newton stated the three universal laws of motion that enabled many of the advances of the Industrial Revolution which soon followed and were not to be improved upon for more than 200 years, and are still the underpinnings of the non-relativistic technologies of the modern world. He used the Latin word gravitas (weight) for the effect that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation.

Apple incident

Newton himself often told the story that he was inspired to formulate his theory of gravitation by watching the fall of an apple from a tree. Although it has been said that the apple story is a myth and that he did not arrive at his theory of gravity in any single moment, acquaintances of Newton (such as William Stukeley, whose manuscript account, published in 1752, has been made available by the Royal Society) do in fact confirm the incident, though not the cartoon version that the apple actually hit Newton's head.

It is known from his notebooks that Newton was grappling in the late 1660s with the idea that terrestrial gravity extends, in an inverse-square proportion, to the Moon; however it took him two decades to develop the full-fledged theory. The question was not whether gravity existed, but whether it extended so far from Earth that it could also be the force holding the Moon to its orbit. Newton showed that if the force decreased as the inverse square of the distance, one could indeed calculate the Moon's orbital period, and get good agreement. He guessed the same force was responsible for other orbital motions, and hence named it "universal gravitation".

Various trees are claimed to be "the" apple tree which Newton describes. The King's School, Grantham, claims that the tree was purchased by the school, uprooted and transported to the headmaster's garden some years later. The staff of the National Trust-owned Woolsthorpe Manor dispute this, and claim that a tree present in their gardens is the one described by Newton. A descendant of the original tree can be seen growing outside the main gate of Trinity College, Cambridge, below the room Newton lived in when he studied there. The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale can supply grafts from their tree, which appears identical to Flower of Kent, a coarse-fleshed cooking variety.

I know this post of mine is just a clear copy of what's written on Wikipedia, but hey! I have made this thing clear already that these People posts couldn't be written by me, since I could go wrong. So I need a trustworthy source to share such info, to prevent any case of "wrong-info-incident" from my side! :D Good Day all! Thanks for reading! ^_^

Quotes by Sir Issac Newton:
  • A man may imagine things that are false, but he can only understand things that are true, for if the things be false, the apprehension of them is not understanding.
  • Errors are not in the art but in the artificers.
  • I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.
  • I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
  • If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.
  • If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
  • It is the weight, not numbers of experiments that is to be regarded.
  • Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.
  • To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.
  • To me there has never been a higher source of earthly honor or distinction than that connected with advances in science.
  • To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.
  • We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.
  • We build too many walls and not enough bridges.


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