Isaac Newton

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Isaac Newton

Who: English physicist and mathematician.

What: Gravity, the laws of motion and calculus are mainly what he’s known for.

Where: England.

Why: Well, not because an apple hit him on the head.

When: 25th December 1642 – 20th March 1727

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time. He was born in Lincolnshire and studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. He showed that white light can be split into colours using a prism (think Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cover) and then recombined into white light. He co-discovered Calculus with Gottfried Leibniz (the general consensus is they both discovered it independently, but Leibniz published first and Newton later claimed Leibniz had stolen it), and improved the reflecting telescope. As if this wasn’t enough, he managed to explain the motion of the planets in his three laws of motion, or Newton’s laws, and a universal theory of gravity. Without Isaac Newton, science would be leaps and bounds behind what it is today; his three laws of motion and universal gravitational theory form the bedrock of modern Physics, and calculus has given scientists from Einstein to Clerk Maxwell the tools for more accurate calculations than ever before. In later life he went on to become a member of Parliament and Master of the Royal Mint, and died in 1727.

Further reading:

http://www.newton.ac.uk/newtlife.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/newton_isaac.shtml

http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/newton

Newton, aged 46

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