Famous Names in Science: Isaac Newton


Isaac Newton, most commonly known for his development of the laws of motion/gravity, was the most prominent mathematician and scientist of his day. He is renowned for his intelligence and numerous contributions to science, but what exactly did he discover?

Sir Isaac Newton was born, on January 4, 1643, a sickly child that shouldn’t have survived infancy. Remarkably, he grew up to be a relatively healthy man who began his studies in childhood. As a child, Newton would occupy his mind with grammar and science books any chance he could. Once he was old enough, he was sent to a grammar school in Grantham where he excelled in machine building and Latin studies. After he finished grammar school, he went to Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Newton created compilations of notes on his philosophical studies. He would continue these notes and his studies at home where he was forced to quarantine because of a Black Plague outbreak. For two years he continued his notes and happened upon some of the most significant scientific breakthroughs.

Within the two years he was home, Newton, now 23 years old, independently invented Calculus, discovered the laws of gravitation and motion, and greatly advanced the study of optics. However, it took him 20 years to publish his laws of motion and gravitation in a book titled Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica and then another 20 to publish his discovery of Calculus. Although it took two decades for him to be recognized for his achievements, he was praised and powerful in the science world once he was. He dominated science until he passed from old age on March 31, 1737.

Due to his monumental discoveries, he was elected president of the Royal Society and he became the first scientist to be knighted by the English Crown. Newton leaves behind a legacy of scientific greatness and will forever be known as one of the greatest scientists of all time.