His impressive body of work made him a leader in scientific research. However, in his work came to standstill after he suffered a nervous breakdown. Upon regaining his health Newton returned to the university. He became a leader against what he saw as an attack on the university by King James II. The king wanted only Roman Catholics to be in positions of power in government and academia. Newton spoke out against the king.
While in London he became more enchanted with the life of politics than the life of research. After suffering a second breakdown in Newton retired from research. He became Warden of the Royal Mint in He became Master of the Royal Mint in Newton was very instrumental in developing techniques to prevent counterfeiting of the English money. Throughout Newton's career he was torn between his desire for fame and his fear of criticism. His overwhelming fear of criticism caused him to resist immediate publication of his work. As a consequence Newton often felt compelled to defend his work against plagiarism.
One such dispute arose over calculus. Though Newton had been the first to derive calculus as a mathematical approach, Gottfried Leibniz was the first one to widely disseminate the concept throughout Europe.
Who Was Isaac Newton?
The dispute with Leibniz dominated the last years of his life. Newton died in Did you know? A site for ages 14 and up. Laura A. Whitlock Curator: J.
The Strange, Secret History of Isaac Newton's Papers
Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Newton returned to Woolsthorpe for eighteen months, from to , during which time he performed the basic experiments and did the thinking for his later work on gravitation the attraction the mass of the Earth has for bodies near its surface and optics the study of light and the changes it experiences and produces.
The story that a falling apple suggested the idea of gravitation to him seems to be true. Newton also developed his own system of calculus a form of mathematics used to solve problems in physics. Returning to Cambridge in , Newton quickly completed the requirements for his master's degree and then began a period of expanding on the work he had started at Woolsthorpe. His mathematics professor, Isaac Barrow, was the first to recognize Newton's unusual ability. When Barrow resigned to take another job in , he recommended that Newton take his place.
Newton became a professor of mathematics at age twenty-seven and stayed at Trinity in that capacity for twenty-seven years. Newton's main interest at the time was optics, and for several years his lectures were devoted to the subject. His experiments in this area had grown out of his interest in improving the effectiveness of telescopes instruments that enable the user to view distant objects through the bending of light rays through a lens.
His discoveries about the nature and properties of light had led him to turn to suggestions for a reflecting telescope rather than current ones based on the refractive bending principle. Newton built several reflecting models in which the image was viewed in a concave rounded like the inside of a bowl mirror through an eyepiece in the side of the tube.
In he sent one of these to the Royal Society Great Britain's oldest organization of scientists. Newton was honored when the members of the Royal Society were impressed by his reflecting telescope and when they elected him to their membership. But when he decided to send the society a paper describing his experiments on light and the conclusions he had drawn from them, the results almost changed history for the worst.
The paper was published in the society's Philosophical Transactions. Many scientists refused to accept the findings, and others were strongly opposed to conclusions that seemed to show that popular theories of light were false. At first Newton patiently answered his critics with further explanations, but when these produced more criticism, he became angry. He vowed he would never publish again, even threatening to give up science altogether. Several years later, at the urging of the astronomer Edmund Halley c.
Newton's greatest work, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, was completed in eighteen months. It was first published in Latin in , when Newton was forty-five. Its appearance established him as the leading scientist of his time, not only in England but in the entire Western world. In the Principia Newton, with the law of universal gravitation, gave mathematical solutions to most of the problems relating to motion with which earlier scientists had struggled. In the years after Newton's election to the Royal Society, the thinking of his peers and of scholars had been slowly developing along lines similar to those which his had taken, and they were more open to his explanations of the behavior of bodies moving according to the laws of motion than they had been to his theories about the nature of light.
Yet the Principia 's mathematical form made it difficult for even the sharpest minds to follow. Those who did understand it saw that it needed to be made easier to read. As a result, in the years from to Newton's death, the Principia was the subject of many books and articles attempting to better explain Newton's ideas. After the publication of the Principia, Newton became depressed and lost interest in scientific matters.
He became interested in university politics and was elected a representative of the university in Parliament. Later he asked friends in London to help him obtain a government appointment. The result was that in , at the age of fifty-four, he left Cambridge to become warden and then master of the Mint place where money is printed or manufactured.
ISAAC -- Newton's life
Newton took the job just as seriously as he had his scientific pursuits and made changes in the English money system that were effective for over one hundred years. Newton's London life lasted as long as his professorship. He received many honors, including the first knighthood given for scientific achievement and election to life presidency of the Royal Society.
In he published the Opticks, mainly a collection of earlier research, which he revised changed three times. In later years he supervised two updated versions of the Principia, he carried on a correspondence with scientists all over Great Britain and Europe, he continued his study and investigation in various fields, and, until his very last years, he performed his duties at the Mint. The Opticks was written and originally published in English rather than Latin, and as a result it reached a wide range of readers in England.
The reputation the Principia had prepared the way for the success of Newton's second published work. Also, its content and manner of presentation made the Opticks more approachable. It contained an account of experiments performed by Newton himself and his conclusions drawn from them, and it had greater appeal for the experimentally minded public of the time than the more mathematical Principia.
Of great interest for scientists were the questions with which Newton concluded the text of the Opticks —for example, "Do not Bodies act upon Light at a distance, and by their action bend its rays?
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Two other areas to which Newton devoted much attention were chronology the science of assigning to events their proper dates and theology the study of religion. His Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms, published in full after his death, attempts to link Egyptian, Greek, and Hebrew history and myths and to establish dates of historical events. John, his aim was to show that the predictions of the Old and New Testaments had so far come true. Newton died on March 20, His surviving writings and letters reveal a person with tremendous powers of concentration, the ability to stand long periods of intense mental strain, and the ability to remain free of distractions.
The many portraits of Newton show him as a man with natural dignity, a serious expression, and large searching eyes. He had developed a mathematical explanation of the universe and opened the door for further study. In changing from pursuit of answers to the question "Why? Anderson, Margaret Jean. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, Berlinski, David.
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