When most people hear the name Isaac Newton, I am sure the first thing that comes to their mind is “Newton’s Law.” Newton’s Law of Gravity and Motion are most popular. According to NASA, Newton’s first law states that “Every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.” His second law explains how “the velocity of an object changes when it is subjected to an external force.” His third law states that “for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.” These laws are very important and highly used in society, science, and math today.
Sir Isaac Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, England in 1643. He was not expected to live as a child. He spent most of his growing up with his grandmother, after his remarried mother, Hannah, moved away. His father, a farmer, had passed a few months before he was born. He attended local schools as a child, but then went on to attend King’s School in Grantham, England. People attempted to persuade Newton to farm, but he was not interested. When he was nineteen, he started studying at Trinity College in Cambridge, England. He got a Bachelor’s Degree, and returned home after the college was closed by the Black Plague. He performed many studies and experiments on his own during his time off, as he was very intelligent.
He returned to school and completed his masters degree. After completing, he went on to become Professor of Mathematics at Trinity. He took the place of a former teacher who resigned for another career. He remained working there for years. He was interested in the improvement of telescopes. He was able to figure out many advancements in light and light properties. Newton while teaching, enjoyed spending his free time reading from the modern philosophers.
There is an apple tree at Cambridge that is dedicated to Newton. When the school was closed during the Plague, he went back home. He needed to continue his own private studies. This is where the myth comes in. Newton was sitting under an apple tree when one of the apples fell. It hit him on the head and they say this is what sparked him to have interest in gravity. According to Biography.com, There is no proof that the apple did hit him on the head, but this is what made him wonder why the apple fell straight down instead of at an angle.
One of Newton’s biggest inventions was the reflecting telescope. He used this project to help prove his theories of light and color in optics, according to Biography.com. This invention is a very big deal in today’s time, and is still being used to make many scientific discoveries. He also helped to not only invent calculus, but advance math in multiple ways. He is credited for inventing the binomial theorem which is the expansion of powers of a binomial. Even though Newton had all of these contributions to math and science, he was known as being a not very nice man. Newton was never married, nor ever involved with anyone. It is believed that he was too focused on his work and his studies. So, he never had any children to carry on his name.
During his life, many scientific advancements were being made. The scientific revolution of the 17th century was in full swing. People were confused by what to believe and think about our world, nature, and why it is the way it is. Some of Newton’s discoveries helped to clarify those questions for many in society. Due to his many discoveries and his telescope invention, people were very impressed. Newton was elected onto the Royal Society of London. He would eventually become interested in politics and wanted to attain a governmental position. All of the work to get there left him overwhelmed and depressed. He had many mental breakdowns and lost interest in most all things related to science. He kept serving as President of the Royal Society and Warden of the Mint. Newton’s Laws helped him to figure out many things. He was able to calculate certain masses, such as planets, and how flat the earth is. Newton claimed that “gravity kept the universe balanced, made it work, and brought heaven and Earth together in one great equation.”
In later years, Newton’s mother died, and he got into a fight with Robert Hooke. These two things made him threaten to quit the Royal Society. Newton was upset that someone and others were questioning his discoveries and work. Although he did not quit, he continued to fight and argue with Hooke for years. With all this going on, Newton was having a hard time. Isolating himself from the world. For almost six years he mostly kept to himself, and did not go out of his way to talk to anyone. He only responded in short, and was not much for being social with others.
During his time alone, he studied more about gravity and the solar system. He attempted to prove those theories and was shot down by many. In 1689, he was elected and represented Cambridge in Parliament. He wanted to help lead the resistance of King James II trying to reinstitute Catholic teachings at Cambridge. One again, Newton found himself overworked. And suffering mental breakdowns.
Near the end, when Newton was elected Warden of the Mint, he moved to London to live with his only true family, his niece, Catherine Barton. She was the mistress of Lord Halifax, who was a high ranking government official. While being in this position, Newton was moving the British currency, from silver to gold standard (the pound currency).
He continued living with his niece and her husband, John Conduitt. They lived at Canterbury Park, Close to Winchester, England. By the ending years of his life, he had made so many scientific discoveries. He was one of the wealthiest men. Though he did decide to donate a large portion of his earnings to charity. People tend to say he became cruel in his old age. He was one of the most famous people in all of Europe, and around the world. At this time, he was pretty lonely, not having a significant other and few friends. He was experiencing digestion issues,as he was reaching 80 years old. This resulted in him having to change his diet and way of life. On March 31st, 1727, Newton died in his sleep. Some believe he could have died from Mercury poisoning, after the autopsy was done and it was discovered in his hair.
Although Newton had passed away, his legacy lived on. Many claim him as to be on the list of the greatest geniuses to ever live. He made so many discoveries that have changed our world and lives still today. One of his most famous quotes was: ‘I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.’