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The Effect of Isaac Newton’s Discoveries on Our Society Today

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Words: 926 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 926|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

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Table of contents

  1. Newton's Early Life and Education
  2. The Development of Calculus
  3. The Gravitational Theory
  4. The Three Laws of Motion
  5. Conclusion

Sir Isaac Newton, born on January 4, 1643, in Woolsthorpe, England, stands as one of the most illustrious figures in scientific history. His profound contributions to various fields, including the development of calculus, the formulation of the gravitational theory, and the establishment of the three laws of motion, have left an indelible mark on the scientific world and continue to influence society today. This essay delves into Newton's life, his seminal achievements, their enduring impact, and the controversies surrounding some of his work.

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Newton's Early Life and Education

The early years of Isaac Newton's life were marked by adversity and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. His father passed away prematurely, leaving him under the care of his grandmother. While his family aspired for him to become a farmer, his insatiable curiosity and intellect led him down a different path. After completing his basic education, Newton enrolled at the University of Cambridge's Trinity College in 1661. It was during this time that he discovered his passion for the philosophical works of René Descartes. In his spare moments, Newton would diligently take notes and ponder over Descartes' ideas.

Newton's academic pursuits were briefly interrupted when he returned home due to the outbreak of the Great Plague in Cambridge. However, this hiatus proved to be a pivotal period during which he laid the groundwork for his groundbreaking theories in calculus, universal forces, and other scientific principles. It was also during this period that he studied the works of Johannes Kepler, which ignited his exploration of gravitational theory. Newton's intellectual curiosity was not confined to science; he also delved into history and religion, and his thoughts and writings were documented in numerous publicly-published books.

Despite his extensive scholarly pursuits, Newton never married and instead lived with his niece in Winchester. He passed away on March 31, 1727, from natural causes, and his final resting place is Westminster Abbey. His legacy encompasses various facets, as he was a scholar, scientist, writer, and inventor. Newton's enduring reputation as a brilliant mind played a pivotal role in the Scientific Revolution, and his establishment of the scientific method contributed to the validation of the heliocentric model.

The Development of Calculus

One of Sir Isaac Newton's most renowned accomplishments is his contribution to the development of calculus. While he is often credited with its invention, there exists a historical dispute over its origin. Around 1665, Newton conceived the concept of "fluxions," which can be understood as derivatives with respect to time. However, at the time, he did not publish any works to substantiate his claims. Concurrently, German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz was formulating mathematical concepts and had published them for public scrutiny.

Newton, holding the position of president of the Royal Society, wielded significant influence and overruled Leibniz's work, subsequently receiving sole credit for the invention of calculus. Nevertheless, the development of calculus during this era was revolutionary. It introduced a mathematical framework that could represent the constantly changing states of nature, such as acceleration or force, in a manner distinct from geometry or algebra. Today, calculus plays a pivotal role in understanding various phenomena, from the motion of celestial bodies to patterns in weather, electrical systems, and the movements of light and sound. Countless household items that we take for granted in our daily lives owe their existence to the applications of calculus.

The Gravitational Theory

Another of Newton's enduring contributions to science is his formulation of the gravitational theory. The popular anecdote about an apple falling on his head may be an embellishment, but it serves to illustrate the momentous insight that led to this groundbreaking theory. Newton perceived that there had to be a force acting on all matter, preventing celestial bodies like the moon from escaping their orbits and causing terrestrial objects like apples to fall.

This force, which he aptly termed "gravity," became the focal point of his scientific inquiries. Newton meticulously studied the effects of gravity on all forms of matter. His gravitational theory posited that every mass in the universe exerts a gravitational force on every other mass, with the strength of this force being directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This elegant theory revolutionized the understanding of the cosmos.

The gravitational theory's practical applications have extended far beyond its initial conception. One notable example of its utility was in the prediction of the existence of the planet Neptune. Observations of Uranus revealed an anomalous orbit, which could not be explained by known celestial bodies. Utilizing Newton's gravitational theory, scientists inferred the presence of another, hitherto undiscovered planet exerting gravitational influence on Uranus. This prediction led to the eventual discovery of Neptune in 1846, confirming the power and accuracy of Newton's gravitational theory.

The Three Laws of Motion

In 1666, at the tender age of 23, Isaac Newton formulated the three laws of motion, a monumental achievement that he later documented in his seminal work, "Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis" in 1687. These laws represent a cornerstone of the natural world and provide a profound insight into the mechanics of motion.

The first law, often referred to as the law of inertia, stipulates that an object at rest will remain at rest, and an object in motion will continue moving in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. This law underscores the concept of inertia, which is crucial in understanding the behavior of objects.

The second law, expressed mathematically as F = ma (force equals mass times acceleration), elucidates the relationship between the force applied to an object, its mass, and the resulting acceleration. This law quantifies the fundamental principle that the greater the force applied to an object, the greater the acceleration it experiences.

The third law posits that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law highlights the conservation of momentum and is exemplified in everyday scenarios, such as the propulsion of rockets and the sensation of walking on the ground.

These three laws, grounded in mathematical formulas, have profound implications for our understanding of the physical world. They provide the basis for comprehending why objects behave as they do and have practical applications in various fields of science and engineering.

Conclusion

Sir Isaac Newton's contributions to science, encompassing the development of calculus, the formulation of the gravitational theory, and the establishment of the three laws of motion, stand as towering achievements of the Scientific Revolution. His relentless pursuit of knowledge and groundbreaking discoveries have left an indelible mark on the scientific community and continue to shape the world today. While controversies persist regarding the credit for certain inventions, there is no disputing the enduring impact of Newton's work.

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Newton's legacy extends beyond his era, as his profound insights into the natural world have provided the foundation for countless scientific endeavors and technological innovations. His meticulous work on calculus, gravitational theory, and the laws of motion has empowered subsequent generations of scientists to build upon his findings and expand our understanding of the universe. Sir Isaac Newton remains an iconic figure in the annals of scientific history, celebrated for his unwavering commitment to unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos and his invaluable contributions to humanity's collective knowledge.

References:

  1. Westfall, R. S. (1980). Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge University Press.
  2. Whiteside, D. T. (Ed.). (1999). The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton (Vol. 7). Cambridge University Press.
  3. Chandrasekhar, S. (1995). Newton’s Principia for the Common Reader. Oxford University Press.
  4. Guicciardini, N. (2009). Reading the Principia: The Debate on Newton’s Mathematical Methods for Natural Philosophy from 1687 to 1736. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Manuel, F. E. (1968). A Portrait of Isaac Newton. Harvard University Press.
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The Effect Of Isaac Newton’s Discoveries On Our Society Today. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-effect-of-isaac-newtons-discoveries-on-our-society-today/
“The Effect Of Isaac Newton’s Discoveries On Our Society Today.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-effect-of-isaac-newtons-discoveries-on-our-society-today/
The Effect Of Isaac Newton’s Discoveries On Our Society Today. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-effect-of-isaac-newtons-discoveries-on-our-society-today/> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
The Effect Of Isaac Newton’s Discoveries On Our Society Today [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-effect-of-isaac-newtons-discoveries-on-our-society-today/
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