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Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727),
one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, was born in Woolsthorpe,
Lincolnshire, England, and died in London. His work laid the foundations for
modern physics, astronomy, and, along with Wilhelm Leibniz, mathematics. His
contribution to modern science is aptly described as the "Newtonian revolution."
Newton's best known contribution to science is in the field of mechanics and
is described in his famous work Principia (1687), which explains the laws governing
the motion of physical objects (heavenly and otherwise). Principia rests on
the new branch of mathematics that Newton invented simultaneously with Leibniz
(1646-1716), calculus, a tool that allowed mathematicians to move beyond the
work done by the ancient Greeks for the first time in almost two thousand years.
Newton's genius was immediately recognized, and he was elected the head of
the Royal Academy of Science. He was also a member of the French Académie
des Sciences and was the first scientist to become a knight of the realm and
to be buried in Westminster Abbey.
Newton provided explanations for fundamental natural phenomena: gravitation,
the motion of the planets, and the mechanics of physics on earth. He united
all of these phenomena under a single law of motion that destroyed the accepted
Aristotelian system. Newton also refined the scientific techniques of hypothesis,
deduction, and experimentation. His unprecedented contributions laid the groundwork
for modern science.
Works by the Author
Newton, Isaac. Mathermatical Principles of Natural Philosophy and His
System of the World. Translated by Andre Motte. Revised by Florian Cajore.
Berkeley: University of Calfornia Press, 1934.
Newton, Isaac. Opticks: A Treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections,
and Colours of Light. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1952.
Newton, Isaac. Newton's Principia. Translated by Andrew Motte. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1934.
Newton, Isaac. Opticks, Queries. 2d ed. 1718.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.