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Christopher Nigido

Sir Isaac Newton
By: Christopher Nigido
College Now Course - SCI 1

In Professor Valente's science class we viewed a biographical film on Sir Isaac Newton. The film contained information on the story of his life, his accomplishments, his adversity, and the contribution that Sir Isaac Newton made to the fields of science and mathematics.

Sir Isaac Newton was born in a manor house near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, on January 4, 1643. Newton's father passed on a few months before Newton was born, and when his mother remarried, was left in the care of his grandmother. Newton went to grammar school in Grantham, but was taken out when his stepfather died due to the fact his mother wanted him to manage her finances. But, Newton had that love for learning math and the sciences. Because of this his family decided to enroll him into Trinity College at Cambridge in June of 1661. It was not until the plague closed Cambridge in the summer of 1665 that Newton's scientific genius emerged. During the 18 months after that summer Newton made revolutionary advances in science, math and astronomy.

Newton is known for his work in Optics, Calculus and the concept of Gravity. Newton's work in Optics shows that he discovered the fact that white light is really a mixture of all the colors. He experimented with a prism to prove this in that he took a prism and shone white light through it and on the wall was the rainbow of colors. Newton used this information to build a reflecting telescope to overcome distortions of chromatic dispersion. In 1671 he donated a telescope to the Royal Society of London. Late in 1672 he published his first research paper on his new theory of light and color. This is when he first had a problem with his nemesis, Robert Hooke. After Hooke died in 1703, Newton published the book Opticks, the book dealt with his further research on light.

Newton is credited by some for inventing calculus. Newton's calculus enabled people to use simple analytical methods to deal with problems such as finding areas, tangents, the lengths of curves, and their maxima and minima. Newton could not fully justify calculus, but he still receives credit for developing this powerful mathematical tool.

Newton is best known for his work in physics. He developed the concept of gravity, the three laws of motion, and also the law of centrifugal force. Newton published the book, Principia, in 1687, which outlined his work and research on these topics. There is a myth that the concept of gravity fell on Newton in the form of an apple hitting him as he sat under an apple tree. While this may or may not be true, the concept of the law of universal gravitation was invented by Newton. Newton is also credited with discovering the three laws of motion:

Newton's First Law of Motion:
I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Newton's Second Law of Motion:
II. The relationship between an object's mass,m, its acceleration a, and the applied force, F, is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectos (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.

Newton's Third Law of Motion:
III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton also used his laws of motion to try and understand the concept of centrifugal force.

After the publishing of Principia, Newton was credited as being the greatest philosopher of his time. Newton suffered a mental breakdown in 1693. In 1699 he was appointed master of the Royal Mint. In 1703 he was elected president of the Royal Society and he was knighted in 1708. He died on March 31, 1727.