Sir Isaac Newton

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  • Topic: Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Royal Society
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Sir Isaac Newton (1642~1727)

Isaac “Ayscough” Newton Jr. was born prematurely on Christmas Day in 1642; Newton grew up in the town of Woolsthorpe (England). He was fatherless and once Newton was born, his mother left him with his grandmother and left town in order to remarry. His childhood was anything but happy, but once his mother returned in 1653 after the death of her second husband she demanded that Newton leave school in order to fulfill his life as a farmer. Of course, he eventually proved that a farmer's life was not meant for him, and in 1661, Newton left for Cambridge. This world proved to be much more suited for Newton. Newton graduated in 1665, and returned home because of the plague. During these years (1665-1666) he entered his “age of invention.” He conceived his 'method of fluxions' (infinitesimal calculus), laid the foundations for his theory of light and color, and achieved significant insight into the problem of planetary motion (observing the fall of an apple in his garden), insights that eventually led to the publication of his Principia.

In 1667, Newton returned to Cambridge where he succeeded Isaac Barrow as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. With this appointment, Newton was able to proceed with his optical researches, and in 1672 he released his first public paper, a very controversial study on the nature of color. Once his mother died in 1678, Newton fled from the real world and into his alchemical research, “rigorous investigations into the hidden forces of nature.” Newton's alchemical studies opened the door to theoretical studies as compared to mechanical studies. “While the mechanical philosophy reduced all phenomena to the impact of matter in motion, the alchemical tradition upheld the possibility of attraction and repulsion at the particulate level.” His studies led him to transforming the mechanical philosophy, the new addition of gravitational force. In 1684, some of Newton's colleges (Robert Hooke, Edmund Halley, and...
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