issac newton

Isaac Newton (1642–1727) is best known for having invented the calculus in the mid to late 1660s (most of a decade before Leibniz did so independently, and ultimately more influentially) and for having formulated the theory of universal gravity — the latter in his Principia, the single most important work in the transformation of early modern natural philosophy into modern physical science. Yet he also made major discoveries in optics beginning in the mid-1660s and reaching across four decades; and during the course of his 60 years of intense intellectual activity he put no less effort into chemical and alchemical research and into theology and biblical studies than he put into mathematics and physics.


Newton’s life naturally divides into four parts: the years before he entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1661; his years in Cambridge before the Principia was published in 1687; a period of almost a decade immediately following this publication, marked by the renown it brought him and his increasing disenchantment with Cambridge; and his final three decades in London, for most of which he was Master of the Mint.

Newton was born into a Puritan family in Woolsthorpe, a small village in Linconshire near Grantham, on 25 December 1642 (old calendar), a few days short of one year after Galileo died. Isaac’s father, a farmer, died two months before Isaac was born. When his mother Hannah married the 63 year old Barnabas Smith three years later and moved to her new husband’s residence, Isaac was left behind with his maternal grandparents. (Isaac learned to read and write from his maternal grandmother and mother, both of whom, unlike his father, were literate.) Hannah returned to Woolsthorpe with three new children in 1653, after Smith died. Two years later Isaac went to boarding school in Grantham, returning full time to manage the farm, not very successfully, in 1659. Hannah’s brother, who had received an M.A. from Cambridge, and the headmaster of the Grantham school then persuaded his mother that Isaac should prepare for the university.

Newton’s initial education at Cambridge was classical, focusing (primarily through secondary sources) on Aristotlean rhetoric, logic, ethics, and physics. By 1664, Newton had begun reaching beyond the standard curriculum, reading, for example, the 1656 Latin edition of Descartes’s Opera philosophica, which included the MeditationsDiscourse on Method, the Dioptrics, and the Principles of Philosophy. By early 1664 he had also begun teaching himself mathematics, taking notes on works by Oughtred, Viète, Wallis, and Descartes — the latter via van Schooten’s Latin translation, with commentary, of the Géométrie. Newton spent all but three months from the summer of 1665 until the spring of 1667 at home in Woolsthorpe when the university was closed because of the plague. This period was his so-called annus mirabilis. During it, he made his initial experimental discoveries in optics and developed (independently of Huygens’s treatment of 1659) the mathematical theory of uniform circular motion, in the process noting the relationship between the inverse-square and Kepler’s rule relating the square of the planetary periods to the cube of their mean distance from the Sun. Even more impressively, by late 1666 he had become de facto the leading mathematician in the world, having extended his earlier examination of cutting-edge problems into the discovery of the calculus, as presented in his tract of October 1666. He returned to Trinity as a Fellow in 1667, where he continued his research in optics, constructing his first reflecting telescope in 1669, and wrote a more extended tract on the calculus “De Analysi per Æquations Numero Terminorum Infinitas” incorporating new work on infinite series. On the basis of this tract Isaac Barrow recommended Newton as his replacement as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a position he assumed in October 1669, four and a half years after he had received his Bachelor of Arts.

Three factors stand in the way of giving an account of Newton’s work and influence. First is the contrast between the public Newton, consisting of publications in his lifetime and in the decade or two following his death, and the private Newton, consisting of his unpublished work in math and physics, his efforts in chymistry — that is, the 17th century blend of alchemy and chemistry — and his writings in radical theology — material that has become public mostly since World War II. Only the public Newton influenced the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, yet any account of Newton himself confined to this material can at best be only fragmentary. Second is the contrast, often shocking, between the actual content of Newton’s public writings and the positions attributed to him by others, including most importantly his popularizers. The term “Newtonian” refers to several different intellectual strands unfolding in the eighteenth century, some of them tied more closely to Voltaire, Pemberton, and Maclaurin — or for that matter to those who saw themselves as extending his work, such as Clairaut, Euler, d’Alembert, Lagrange, and Laplace — than to Newton himself. Third is the contrast between the enormous range of subjects to which Newton devoted his full concentration at one time or another during the 60 years of his intellectual career — mathematics, optics, mechanics, astronomy, experimental chemistry, alchemy, and theology — and the remarkably little information we have about what drove him or his sense of himself. Biographers and analysts who try to piece together a unified picture of Newton and his intellectual endeavors often end up telling us almost as much about themselves as about Newton.

CONCLUSION:-He is also known as father of sciences