About Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642 (by the Julian calendar then in use; or January 4, 1643 by the current Gregorian calendar) in Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, England. He was born the same year Galileo died. Newton is clearly the most influential scientist who ever lived. His accomplishments in mathematics, optics, and physics laid the foundations for modern science and revolutionized the world.

Newton was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge where he lived from 1661 to 1696. During this period he produced the bulk of his work on mathematics. In 1696 he was appointed Master of the Royal Mint, and moved to London, where he resided until his death.

As mathematician, Newton invented integral calculus, and jointly with Leibnitz, differential calculus. He also calculated a formula for finding the velocity of sound in a gas which was later corrected by Laplace.

Newton made a huge impact on theoretical astronomy. He defined the laws of motion and universal gravitation which he used to predict precisely the motions of stars, and the planets around the sun. Using his discoveries in optics Newton constructed the first reflecting telescope.

Newton found science a hodgepodge of isolated facts and laws, capable of describing some phenomena, but predicting only a few. He left it with a unified system of laws that can be applied to an enormous range of physical phenomena, and that can be used to make exact predications. Newton published his works in two books, namely "Opticks" and "Principia."

Newton died in London on March 20, 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, the first scientist to be accorded this honor. A review of an encyclopedia of science will reveal at least two to three times more references to Newton than any other individual scientist. An 18th century poem written by Alexander Pope about Sir Isaac Newton states it best:

“Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was light.”

The patronage in his life

Issac Barrow, Newton’s mentor and patron was selected as the first occupier of the Lucasian chair (The incumbent of the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics, the Lucasian Professor is the holder of a mathematical professorship at the University of Cambridge). The post was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas, who was Cambridge University's Member of Parliament from 1639–1640, and was officially established by King Charles II on January 18, 1664. Lucas, in his will, bequeathed his library of 4,000 volumes to the University and left instruction for the purchase of land whose yielding should provide £100 a year for the founding of a professorship.) But Issac Barrow resigned his professorship only after five years in favour of Isaac Newton in 1669.

Newton and Barrow

[Newton and Barrow on the windows of Trinity College]

Published while Newton was holding the professorship, the Principia is widely regarded as one of the most important scientific works ever written. Edmond Halley famous for Halley comet played a substantial role in the development of the Principia and he managed Newton's work through publication and underwrote the cost of printing.

Patronage of later life of Newton

It was at this time Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax contracted a very intimate friendship with George Stepney. In 1682, when Stepney was elected at Cambridge, Montagu asked to be moved to Cambridge in order to join his friend, without waiting for the advantages of another year. His relation, Dr. John Montagu, was then Master of Trinity College, and took him under his wing. At Cambridge he began a lasting association with Isaac Newton.

Newton moved to London to take up the post of warden of the Royal Mint in 1696, a position that he had obtained through the patronage of Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. He took charge of England's great recoining, somewhat treading on the toes of Master Lucas (and securing the job of deputy comptroller of the temporary Chester branch for Edmond Halley). Newton became perhaps the best-known Master of the Mint upon Lucas' death in 1699, a position Newton held until his death. These appointments were intended as sinecures, but Newton took them seriously, retiring from his Cambridge duties in 1701, and exercising his power to reform the currency and punish clippers and counterfeiters. As Master of the Mint in 1717 Newton unofficially moved the Pound Sterling from the silver standard to the gold standard by creating a relationship between gold coins and the silver penny in the "Law of Queen Anne"; these were all great reforms at the time, adding considerably to the wealth and stability of England. It was his work at the Mint, rather than his earlier contributions to science, that earned him a knighthood from Queen Anne in 1705.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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Isaac Newton

Isaac Barrow

Isaac Barrow was an English mathematician who developed a method of determining tangents that closely approached the methods of calculus, and he was first to recognise that integration and differentiation are inverse operations.