Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe near Grantham, England.
He is generally regarded as the most original and influential theorist in the history of science.
He was born in a poor farming family. But he was not good at farming. He was sent to study at Cambridge University in 1661. In 1665 a plague broke out in Cambridge and so Newton took a year off. It was during this year that the incident of the apple falling on him is said to have occurred. This incident prompted Newton to explore the possibility of connecting gravity with the force that kept the moon in its orbit. This led him to the universal law of gravitation. It is remarkable that many great scientists before him knew of gravity but failed to realise it.

Newton formulated the well-known laws of motion. He worked on theories of light and colour. He designed an astronomical telescope to carry out astronomical observations. Newton was also a great mathematician. He
invented a new branch of mathematics, called calculus. He used it to prove that for objects outside a sphere of uniform density, the sphere behaves as if the whole of its mass is concentrated at its centre. Newton transformed the structure of physical science with his three laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation. As the keystone of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, Newton’s work combined the contributions of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo,
and others into a new powerful synthesis. It is remarkable that though the gravitational theory could not be verified at
that time, there was hardly any doubt about its correctness. This is because Newton based his theory on sound scientific reasoning and backed it with mathematics. This made the theory simple and elegant. These qualities are
now recognised as essential requirements of a good scientific theory.

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