Newton, Sir Isaac
Newton (n¡t´n, ny¡t´n), Sir Isaac
English mathematician and scientist who invented differential calculus and formulated the theories of universal gravitation, terrestrial mechanics, and color. His treatise on gravitation, presented in Principia Mathematica (1687), was supposedly inspired by the sight of a falling apple.
– Newtonian adjective
Newton, Sir Isaac
Newton, Sir Isaac (1642-1727), English mathematician and physicist, considered one of the greatest scientists in history. Born in Lincolnshire, Newton was educated at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge, and became Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the university. In 1696 he moved to London, where he supervised the Royal Mint and, in 1703, became president of the Royal Society.
The Fluxional Method
Newton’s first achievement was in mathematics. In 1666 he generalized the methods used to draw tangents to curves and to calculate the area swept by curves. Recognizing that the two procedures were inverse operations, he joined them in what he called the fluxional method, a kind of mathematics now known as calculus. German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz independently discovered nearly the same method, calling it differential calculus, and published before Newton did, but Newton did his work earlier.
Another area of Newton’s early interests was optics. He explained color by saying that sun light is a blend of different rays, each representing a different color. He further explained that reflection and refraction cause colors to appear by separating light into its components. Newton demonstrated his theory of colors by passing a beam of sunlight through a prism, which separated the beam into different colors. In 1704 Newton published Opticks, which explained his theories in detail.
In the late 1680s, inspired by a discussion with British astronomer and mathematician Edmund Halley about orbital motion, Newton established the modern science of dynamics by formulating his three laws of motion. When Newton applied these laws to the laws of orbital motion formulated by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler, he derived the law of universal gravitation. Newton is probably best known for this discovery, which explains that all objects in space and on earth are affected by the force called gravity. His famous book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) detailed his findings and marked a turning point in science.
When Isaac Newton was twenty-three years old and a student at Cambridge, he was forced to leave his college by the wave of bubonic plague that brought black death to most of England in 1665. While on this enforced holiday in the country, he saw an orblike apple fall to the earth and, in his own words, “began to think of gravitation as extending to the orb of the moon.” These thoughts led to his universal theory of gravity, which says that every particle in the universe attracts ever other particle with a force that depends on their masses and the distance bewteen them.
– _Supernature_ by Lyall Watson
Time according to Newton. Newton identified himself with the search for an “objective” time that was outside phenomena, a flow of time that would run through the universe of its own accord. In laying down the concept of universal time as the basis of his mechanics, Newton was led inevitably to the principle of absolute space, according to which each place or each position is identical in every respect to any other in the universe. For Newton there must be privileged axes of reference that are absolutely immobile and that make it possible to describe the universe and the processes that occur in it.