Isaac Newton is one of the greatest minds of the mathmatical world. He was
born in the manor house of Woolsthorpe, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, England
on the 4th of January, 1643. Newton's father died 3 months before he was born
and when he was two years old his mother married Barnabas Smith, the local
church pastor, and left Isaac in the care of his grandmother. His step father died
in 1653 and left him with his mother, grandmother, one half brother and two half
sisters. Shortly after his step father died, he began attending the Free Grammar
School in Grantham.
Reports show that Isaac was doing poorly in school and that his teachers described
him as having no academic potential. Later, after being in the Grammar School for a
short time, his mother decided that he should run her affairs and the estate, but
Newton found no interest in that. The head master of the grammar school and
Newton's uncle then convinced his mother to allow him to go to University, saying
that he actually did have an interest in academics. It was reported that Isaac had
a great ability to make machines and contraptions such as windmills and clocks.
Newton entered Trinity College Cambridge on June 5th 1661 to originally study
law. He studied the philosophy of Descartes, Gassendi, Hobbes, and in particular
Boyle. His first recorded writings on his ideas were found in Quaestiones Quaedam
Philosophicae. One of the original quotes that was found by him that proved that
he was always in independent thinker said in latin "Plato is my friend, Aristotle is
my friend, but my best friend is truth".
Newton's first exposure to mathmatics came when he bought a book on astronomy
at a Cambridge fair. Upon realizing that he didnt understand that math in it, he
proceeded to buy books on algebra, geometry and trigonometry so that he could
better understand the meaning. He read the books over and over taking in the
meaning and devising his own ways of proving the formulas. Newton was elected
a scholar on 28 April 1664 and received his bachelor's degree in April 1665.
However, he returned home from his college once it was closed down due to the
plague and there is where his genius broke through and he started devising and
creating and developed the foundation for differential and integral calculus.
After living at his home for a while and developing the formulas for tangents, flux's
and other procedures, he returned to the college where he applied for a Fellowship
and was first elected minor but later was elected major. Soon after, Barrow stepped
down from his chair as Lucasian (after helping Newton to send out his manuscripts
of his findings) and suggested that Newton take his place, and so he did. Newton
taught on the findings he made on white light (that it wasnt a single entity) and on
optics. He found himself in arguments often with Hooke (another famous member
of the Royal Society that Newton was in) over whether ligth was a mass of particles
of it was infact waves. He published his new book Opticks after Hooke died and
it contained the combination of corpuscular light theories and wave light theories
Newton continued his studies and perhaps made his most profound impact on the
scientific world with the discovery of his three laws of motion. He continued to
explore the scientific world until he found a life in politics and was elected president
of the Royal Society (after being knighted by Queen Anne and having huge battles
with Leibniz about who truly invented calculus) every year until he died.
-To read the full details on Newton's life click here
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