Who was Isaac Newton inspired by?
childhood and education:
Isaac Newton was born on January 4th 1643 to a successful and noble sheep farmer in Woolsthorpe in the English county of Lincolnshire. His father died before he was born, and since his mother married a second time in 1642, Isaac Newton grew up with his grandmother. The fact that he was abandoned by his mother as a child is said to have been the reason for his complicated and unstable nature. After the death of her second husband nine years after the marriage, his mother returned to her hometown.
In Woolsthorpe, Isaac Newton first attended the village school, later he switched to the Latin school in Grantham. Because of his solitary and reserved character, he was an outsider who was teased by his classmates. This led him to completely withdraw and concentrate only on reading books. His mother then placed him with a family of pharmacists, where Isaac Newton found a better environment. In this household he was allowed to pursue his urge to research and found literature and materials to experiment with his ideas. Although the silent boy did not attract attention because of his academic achievements, a pastor recognized his mathematical talent and made sure that he received a scholarship to study at Trinity College, Cambridge. Isaac Newton was able to avoid having to take over his father's farm. Already in his childhood he showed a clear interest in experimental research and the construction of devices.
At Trinity College he met Isaac Barrow, a mathematics and theology professor who knew how to promote his talents in a targeted manner and was able to teach him the basics of natural sciences in just a few years. During his studies, Isaac Newton also came into contact with the philosophical and mathematical writings of René Descartes and the works of Johannes Kepler, learned different languages and at times occupied himself with music theory. He completed his studies with a Master of Arts in 1668, although he had previously spent two years in Woolsthorpe due to a plague epidemic. The year after graduation, he succeeded his mentor Isaac Barrow and took over his position at Trinity College. This made him the second holder of the Lucasian Chair after Barrow, a position that was later held by great scientists such as Stephen Hawking.
Academic career and academic achievements:
During the time of the plague epidemic, Isaac Newton, having returned to his hometown, was already occupied with gravitation and calculus. In the lonely surroundings of Woolsthorpe, he also discovered in the course of small experiments with prisms and window panes that light could be broken down into spectral colors. Even if these were little gimmicks, they provided important insights in the field of color theory and optics. As early as 1669, he constructed a reflector telescope with a curved lens with which he could focus the light. He later presented his invention to the Royal Society, which then made him a member. After graduating from Cambridge, he developed his work on calculus further, revolutionizing the mathematics of his time. Until then, it had only been possible to use numbers to calculate. With Newton's achievement, speeds and other variable physical units could now also be described by calculation. Around the same time, the German natural scientist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed the integral and differential calculus independently of Newton. Ultimately, Newton's calculus prevailed over Leibniz's differential calculus. It laid the foundation for an exact calculation of physical processes and made Isaac Newton one of the most important pioneers of modern natural sciences.
After completing his studies and while working as a professor in Cambridge, Newton also studied the teachings of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei intensively. This inspired him to develop Newtonian mechanics, a theory of natural science based on exact calculations and experiments. He placed the so-called law of gravitation at the center of this theory of mechanics. He came across this by chance when he was lying on the grass in the garden of his parents' house and saw an apple hanging on the tree. Suddenly he asked himself why it was hanging straight down. He transferred his thoughts to the sun and moon and their position in relation to the earth. The law of gravitation, which he formulated on the basis of his observations and should therefore become immortal, says that two mass bodies are attracted to each other. With this rule he found an explanation of gravity and was able to prove that the greater the mass of a body, the stronger the force of attraction. Isaac Newton thus substantiated both Galileo's and Kepler's theories about the orbits of the planets and the movement of celestial bodies around the sun.
He summarized his findings and theories in his main work, the "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica", which appeared in 1687, was later described by some physicists as the most important work in the natural sciences and established his reputation as one of the most important universal scholars in history. This publication led to his promotion to Cambridge University MP, a position he held until 1690. A few years later, a severe nervous breakdown prevented him from continuing his scientific research. He initially turned to religion and alchemy and was finally appointed as a supervisor in coinage in 1696. This activity led him to become royal mint master and moved to London. There he was given the presidency of the Royal Society in 1703. Until his death on March 31, 1727, Isaac Newton, who was the first scientist in Great Britain to be knighted in 1715, was a regular at the royal court and enjoyed an excellent reputation as a politician. His remains were buried in a grave of honor in Westminster Abbey.
Isaac Newton was always described by contemporaries as a difficult and closed character. He is said to have been so obsessed with his tireless research that he consciously never entered into relationships with women, nor did he have the desire to start a family. Although he was in conflict with many of the leading scientists of his time, he was highly recognized in the professional world.
Because of his outstanding achievements, Isaac Newton went down in history as the most important polymath of the 16th and early 17th centuries. He provided important insights in many areas of natural science that revolutionized physics as well as mathematics and astronomy. The worldview that he created in the course of his studies retained its validity for over two hundred years.
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