What is Sir Isaac Newton known for?

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton was born on January 4th, 1643 in Woolsthorpe and died in London on March 31st, 1727.

He was born after his father's death and grew up with his mother and grandmother. He attended the village school and later the Latin school in the neighboring town of Grantham. An uncle who was a pastor ensured that the boy did not have to take over his father's estate, but was allowed to follow his strong inclination towards mathematical studies, experimental investigations and manual construction. So he moved to Cambridge University at the age of 18 and was lucky enough to find a math teacher in Isaac Barrow, who holds the only science-oriented chair there, who would develop his talent. When the plague struck England in 1665, Newton spent two years at home in Woolsthorpe. He himself confessed that he was then in the prime of his creative powers. His achievements in calculus as well as in mechanics and optics have their roots in that time. Newton went quickly through the academic ladder, was already a Master of Arts in 1668 and in 1669 successor to Barrow's professorship.

Starting from R. Descartes and John Wallis, he founded the infinitesimal calculus and the series theory, certain curvatures and turning points of many curves. He also made an important contribution to the systematic order of the curves. 1704 placed Newton in the Enumeratio linearum tertii ordinis ("List of third-order lines") Curves according to the number of points that they can have in common with a straight line. In doing so he recognized the transcendence of all spirals.

"A line of the order infinite is one which can intersect a straight line in an infinite number of points, such as the spiral, the cycloid, the quadratrix and every line which is produced by an infinite number of revolutions of a ray or a wheel."

Newton is one of the most important natural scientists of mankind. Fundamental contributions to dynamics, optics, celestial mechanics, mathematics and chemistry characterize his life's work as well as the fact that the scientific worldview he shaped was undisputedly valid for more than two centuries.

In the mathematical field, Newton emerged particularly in infinitesimal mathematics and algebra. No doubt Newton's physical work surpasses his mathematical achievements, significant as they are. His historical achievement consists in the formulation of a comprehensive law of gravitation and in the mathematical proof that Kepler's laws of planetary motion follow from the law of gravitation and vice versa, a proof that Newton possessed between 1679 and 1684 at the latest. The best known are the three basic laws of motion (principle of inertia, force as a product of mass and acceleration, actio equals reaction).

In his scientific work Newton was extraordinarily consistent, hard-working and persistent and combined abstract-theoretical acumen with experimental and technical skill to an extraordinary extent.