It is amazing to think about how a number of individuals are able to change the course of history in a timely manner. This is undoubtedly the case with Isaac Newton, a multidisciplinary thinker who has dedicated his life to physics, theology, research, alchemy and mathematical calculation.
What would modern science have been without his contributions? What would the world of physics be like today if the book Philosophiæ naturalis principia mathematica had never been published, which describes the law of universal gravitation and the basics of classical mechanics?
Without a doubt, while all human beings are essential in one way or another to our society, there are people who have changed the culture and perception of the world around us. For many scientists, Isaac Newton’s excellent work is considered the most important scientific publication in history, which will soon be named.
Therefore, for any reader avid for scientific knowledge, the approach of the figure of Isaac Newton and his contributions to the world of research is essential. Remember: to move forward, we need to be clear about where we come from. Therefore, in this article you will find a brief biography of Isaac Newton and an explanation of the most relevant contributions to science of this incredible figure.
Isaac Newton: the biography of one of the most important thinkers in history
Newton was born on January 4, 1643, near the outskirts of the town of Grantham (Lincolnshire, East Midlands, England) where he spent his early years. Isaac showed a strong religious spirit early in his lifeThis is evidenced by a “Book of Sins” he wrote in his youth, which was auctioned off in 1936 and acquired by the University of Cambridge.
Out of curiosity, some of the “transgressions” performed by this young thinker are at least incredible: spitting water or openly using the word god are two examples of the 57 collected.
We don’t want to do a detailed vital examination of every step of this fascinating figure, as we reliably believe his works speak for themselves. We will limit ourselves to saying that at the age of 18 he entered the University of Cambridge and, at the age of 26, succeeded his own professor Isaac Barrow as chair of mathematics. of his university.
His development as a scientist
Subsequently, in 1672, he joined the Royal Society, a society of leading English scientists, which continues today to operate under the name “The Royal Society of London for the Advancement of Science Natural”. In 1687, at the request of a friend, publishes the treatise Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy or “Mathematical Philosophiæ naturalis principia”. It is without a doubt one of the most important works in the fields of science in general and physics in all history.
Newton went through various public functions essential to the leadership of his country, as he was a Member of Parliament, Director of the Mint, and even served as President of the Royal Society in 1703. Instead, for all those years he has shaped a number of essential contributions which we will list below.
At this point, it’s essential to take note: No matter how much a figure may be idolized and no matter how powerful their heritage is, a human being is still that, an individual. So Newton’s life was not free from tribulations and discomforts, for example, in 1693, he suffered a great mental crisis, during which he isolated himself and deprived himself of food and sleep.. During this time, he suffered from recurrent depression and paranoia, which made many specialists suspect that he appeared to be suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
We are dealing with a multifaceted and fascinating person, for despite being an incredible thinker and an unusual mind, Newton did not tolerate criticism, exhibited strong rivalries with other scholars of the time, and came to wish the death of more than one. Of course, personality does not take away from the legitimacy of the work, but we must always remember that we are dealing with human beings, that is, we are imperfect like any of us. .
The last years and death
Isaac left this world at the age of 84 (1727) after various kidney problems, due to renal colic. It should be noted that despite his strong rivalries, his accusations of plagiarism and his overt jealousy with the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz, he never lost the respect and dedication of the village and the scientific community. This culminated in 1705, when he was awarded the title of “Sir” (knight) from Queen Anna.
Contributions to science
Once we’ve got through the life of this versatile character, it’s time to dive into his legacy and work.
1. The law of universal gravitation
Bernard Cohen, contemporary American historian and scientist, declares that “the culmination of the scientific revolution was the discovery by Isaac Newton of the law of universal gravitation”. We are not dealing with a simple formula, but with the understanding of most of the physical phenomena observable by the human eye..
It is one of the many physical laws formulated in the book “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”, which describes the gravitational interaction between bodies and mass. In other words, it establishes a proportional relationship between the gravitational force and the mass of bodies. To put it simply: we can say that the force with which two masses are attracted is proportional to the product of their masses divided by the distance between them and the square. Thus, the closer and more massive two bodies are, the more intensely they will be attracted.
2. Newton’s 3 laws
The writing space is finite, but Newton’s contributions to physics and science in general cannot be counted on even two fingers. For that, we condense the extreme complexity of the three laws of classical mechanics, Also collected in the works cited above:
- Law of Inertia: A body will remain at rest or in rectilinear motion at a constant speed, unless an external force is applied.
- Fundamental law of dynamics: the net force applied to a body is proportional to the acceleration it acquires in its trajectory.
- Principle of action and reaction: for each action, there is always an opposite and equal reaction.
Although to date these assumptions may seem “out of the box”, they were the basics of classical mechanics, which allowed us to cover from understanding and making machines to understanding planetary motion, Being conjugated to the law of universal gravitation previously described.
3. Other contributions
Although you have presented the most important postulates of Isaac Newton, there are still many other contributions to the world of science by this number that the general population does not know.
For example, in Newton he is credited with the invention of the infinitesimal calculus (With the already named philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, whom Newton accused of plagiarism). In short, it is an important branch of mathematics focused on the study of change and continuity.
In addition, this fascinating thinker is credited with the discovery of optical scattering, that is, the breaking down of the beam of white light into the different colors that make it up (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and purple).). Therefore, proved that sunlight is made up of the sum of all colors. Almost nothing.
We have left many more postulates and ideas in the inkwell, but we can summarize Newton’s scientific work by laying the foundations of classical mechanics, various works on light and optics, and the development of the infinitesimal calculus. in the field.
We are dealing with a true genius and titan of his time, who in addition to carry out multiple research essential to scientific development, was a renowned public figure, until obtaining the status of knight in 1705 ..
Despite all of his successes, he was not an error-free human being, and for this reason he was surrounded by intense controversy and friction with other thinkers of the time for part of his life. To this is added a strong theological spirit and the suspicion of various mental disorders, among which a possible bipolar disorder or schizophrenia is attributed. Despite being a human being (with the flaws that that implies), the work and legacy of this awesome figure will last until the end of humanity.
- Westfall, RS and Devons, S. (1981). Never at rest: a biography of Isaac Newton.
- Marquina, JE (2005). The Newtonian construction of universal gravitation. Mexican Journal of Physics, 51 (EN1), pp. 45-53.
- Law of universal gravitation, concept.de. Collected September 10 from https://concepto.de/ley-de-gravitacion-universal/
- Newton’s Laws: meanings.com. Collected September 10 https://www.significados.com/leyes-de-newton/#:~:text=Las%20tres%20leyes%20de%20Newton,principio%20de%20acci%C3%B3n%20y%20reacci% C3% B3.