The Ambassador Of Classical Physics: Life and Work Of Isaac Newton

“What we know is a drop,
What we don’t know is an ocean”

These words have been very wisely penned by Isaac Newton, the legendary mathematician and scientist of the 16th and 17th century. Credited as one of the greatest minds this world has ever encountered, today, it is the 376th birth anniversary of the legend whose revolutionary discoveries have moulded our modern day world.

Isaac Newton

Known mainly for his three laws of motion & his discovery of Gravity, Isaac Newton was born on 25th December of 1942 at Woolsthorpe Manor in the United Kingdom. From the age of twelve to seventeen, Newton was educated at The King’s School, Grantham, which taught Latin and Greek and probably laid a significant foundation of mathematics for him. Newton was partly motivated by a desire for revenge against a schoolyard bully, which made him the top-ranked student, and he mainly distinguished himself by building sundials and models of windmills in the school. In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. He started as a subsizar and paid his way by performing valet’s duties until he was awarded a scholarship in 1664, guaranteeing him four more years until he could get his MA.In 1665, he discovered the generalised binomial theorem and in 1667, he was elected a fellow of Trinity.

Well known for his laws of motion,Newton worked out that if the force of gravity pulled the apple from the tree, then it was also possible for gravity to exert its pull on objects much, much further away. Newton’s theory helped prove that all objects, as small as an apple and as large as a planet, are subjected to gravity and this remained the basis of classical mechanics until Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity in the 20th century.To help explain his theories of gravity and motion, Newton helped to create a new, specialized form of mathematics, ie Calculus.Hence, In mathematics, along with discovering the generalised Binomial theorem, he was also the original discoverer of the infinitesimal calculus. Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 1687) was one of the most important single works in the history of modern science. In this book, he has explained his three laws of motion, the basic principles of modern physics, which resulted in the formulation of the law of universal gravitation and revolutionised the field of classical mechanics.

Newton used his mathematical description of gravity to prove Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, to account for tides,the trajectories of comets, the precession of the equinoxes and other phenomena, eradicating doubt about the Solar System’s heliocentricity. Newton also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and celestial bodies . Newton was responsible for building the first practical reflecting telescope. He developed a sophisticated theory of colour based on the observation that a prism separates white light into the colours of the visible spectrum. His work on light was collected in his highly influential book Opticks, which was published in 1704. Newton also formulated an empirical law of cooling, and made the first theoretical calculation of the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid.

A replica of Newton’s second reflecting telescope

As well as being a scientist, Newton also spent a major part of his life investigating religious issues.Taking into consideration his ground breaking revelations about the nature, Newton was elected the Fellow of Royal Society in 1672. It has been claimed that as devoted as he was to his work, he remained single throughout his life and died in his sleep in London on 20 March 1727. Isaac Newton was really one of the finest brains this mankind has ever witnessed and it would not be wrong to say that his contributions have changed the way we see and understand the world around us.

Happy Birthday Genius!

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