Sir Isaac Newton was not only one of the greatest physicists who ever lived, but he was also one of those scientists who contributed a lot to mathematics. He made most of his mathematical contributions while he was first a student and then a professor at Trinity College, Cambridge between 1661 and 1696. Our world would not be the same today without the important discoveries of this farmer’s son.
The years 1665-66 were one of the worst for England when the bubonic plague devastated all the great cities. 1665 is also the year Newton earned his bachelor’s degree. When the school was closed to combat the plague, Newton retired to the family farm at Woolsthorpe. During those two years that he spent in seclusion doing nothing but devoting all his time to physics and mathematics, Newton discovered the law of gravity and made important advances in mathematics.
Here’s a list of 23-year-old Newton’s accomplishments during those two crucial years:
He discovered the law of universal gravitation, invented calculus (at the same time, but independently from Leibnitz in Germany), further developed the binomial theorem, and began his lifelong studies in optics and color theory.
There, during his two-year stay on the farm, Newton discovered and demonstrated that the same force that pushes a rock towards the earth (that is, gravity) is the same force that pushes the moon towards the earth and keeps it in place. orbit. Later he developed this into a “Principle of Universal Gravitation” which said that any two objects in the universe were attracted to each other in direct proportion to the product of their masses, and in inverse proportion to the square of the distance between them.
Newton is best known for his 3 laws of motion:
Law 1 (Law of Inertia): If an object is at rest and there is no net force acting on it, it will remain at rest. If it is moving at a constant speed and no net force acts on it, it will continue to move at that constant speed.
Law 2: F = ma, o: the net force acting on an object is its mass multiplied by the acceleration of the object. Therefore, if an object is moving at a constant speed, that is, if its acceleration is zero, then there is no net force acting on it.
Law 3: To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If A pushes B with a force of F, B also pushes A in the opposite direction with a force of F. The sun attracts the Earth and the Earth attracts the Sun with the same force!
During 1668 and 1669, Newton worked in optics at the University of Cambridge.
1669 is another important year in Newton’s life, as it was then that Prof. Isaac Barrow resigned from the famous “Lucasian Chair” at Cambridge and offered it to Newton as its second occupant. Assured of a good permanent position, Newton pursued his studies of the nature of light and optics with renewed vigor.
Here is a summary of Newton’s various contributions to the science of optics, some of which later culminated in his 1704 book, also titled “Optics.”
Newton developed instruments to polish lenses in shapes other than spheres. It is the first in human history to discover that, when it passes through a prism, the sunlight is divided into a beam of rays of different colors. Based on that observation, he developed the first successful explanation of rainbows.
The great physicist has also discovered the telescope that is still known by its name today; invented a reflecting microscope in 1672, as well as a sextant that was discovered independently in 1731 by J. Hadley.
Yet for all his daring discoveries in optics and color theory, Newton was vehemently attacked during the 1670s. Sometimes minds less than a genius take a while to catch up on the greatest discoveries of the history of mankind.
Even if Newton had died in his early twenties, his place in the world of mathematics and science would have been secure enough. But he lived some 60 more years and pushed the frontiers of human reason and science even further, thanks to his extraordinary gifts as a physicist and mathematician.