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Skill 10 of 11
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Sir Isaac Newton

English (1643-1727) physicist and mathematician. Born in Woolsthorpe, England on Dec. 25th;[1,2] buried in Westminster Abbey.[2] Knighted to the title of ‘Sir‘ by the Queen of the United Kingdom in 1705.[1]

Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton, painted by Gottfried Kniller in 1689[3]

Newton was one of the forefathers of the scientific revolution,[1] and founded the scientific method, a precise methodology for how to perform scientific research, which we use today all over the world. [2] In general, Newton acknowledged that there is an endless amount of knowledge we do not yet have:

What we know is a drop, what don’t know is an ocean

Sir Isaac Newton[2]

and he credited his predecessors, among which he was fascinated by René Descartes in particular.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Sir Isaac Newton[2]

He changed the scientific world by discovering several laws of nature that are essential to modern science and are used routinely in today’s engineering. He is most famous for

  • his laws of motion, usually simply referred to as Newton’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd law.[1] Other laws have also been named in his honour, such as
  • Newton’s law of cooling[1] and
  • Newton’s law of gravity.[1] Supposedly, his law of gravity was inspired by a falling apple from an apple tree at his farm in his hometown.[2] 

In 1686, Newton published his ‘Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy)[1,2] (often simply called his ‘Principia‘)[2], possibly the ‘single most influential book on physics‘,[1] where many of his laws of nature were presented.[2] 

Also, Newton worked in the field of optics, light and colours as well as with the development of calculus (differentiation and integration) in mathematics.[2] In fact, Newton developed calculus at the same time as but independently from Gottfried Leibniz, which brought a dispute of who should be credited.[2] 

Later in his life, Newton became master of England’s Royal Mint that was authorised for the manufacturing of coins for the UK.[2]


References:

  1. Isaac Newton Biography’ (web page), Biography.com, A&E Television Networks, 2019, www.biography.com/scientist/isaac-newton (accessed Jan. 21st, 2020)
  2. Isaac Newton’ (web page), History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2019, www.history.com/topics/inventions/isaac-newton (accessed Jan. 22st, 2020)
  3. Sir Isaac Newton’ (painting), Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1689, www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godfrey_Kneller (accessed Jan. 21st, 2020)