Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton –  (b. January 4, 1642, Woolsthrope, Grantham, d. March 31, 1727, Kensington, London) was a famous English  mathematician, physicist, astronomer, president of Royal Society. Isaac Newton is the scientist who  laid the foundations of the scientific theories which revolutionized the science in the fields of optics, mathemathics and especially of mechanics . In 1687 he published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, in which he described The Law of universal gravitation and by studying the laws of  objects motion he has created the bases for the classical mechanics.  Together  with Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz he contributed to inventing and developing  the differential and integral calculus . Newton was the first scientist who demonstrated that  the laws of  nature govern the motion both of  the Earth and of other celest bodies intuiting that the orbits may be not only elliptic but also hyperbolic and parabolic  He also showed that the white light is a light which is composed of monochromatic radiations  of different colours.

First of all Newton was a physicist. His gigantic laboratory was the field of the astronomy and his instruments of genius were the mathematic methods, ones of them being invented just by himself. However, Newton was not atracted only by the purelay actromomic and mathematical branches of his activity but he preferably remained a physicist. It is  this domain in which there were manifested the  uncommon tenacity and consistency of this conceptions. Before and after  Newton up to the present, the mankind has not known a scientific genius of a greater force and duration. Newton was born just before  the beginning of the great civil war in England, he was contemporary to  the execution of Carol I, to the reigning of  Cromwell, to the Stuart’s restauration, to the so called “glorious bloodless revolution ” of 1688, and died on the age of  84 when the constitutional regime was already consolidated . But it seems that the political storms  have not  leaved deep traces  on Newton´s life . He remains probably an apolitical  “phylosophe ” in that large sense in which  this word was used in ancient times.

Although sometimes he was inclined to consider his theological and religious preocupations as his main activity, Newton´s theological and historical preocupations may be considered only as an inevitable tribute he paid to his epoque as well as many of his contmporaries have done.

Isaac Newton was born in the Woolsthorpe village, 10 km south of  Grantham town  near the eastern border of England.

Isaac´s mother  had become widow and decided to re-marry Barnabas Smith a rich man and twice older than she was. This new husband  wanted a wife without children and she has been needed to abandon Isaac (then of  3 years old), leaving him in the care of his grandmother. In 1656, she had returned in Woolsthorpe with three children– Isaac´s brother and sisters. The boy was of 15 years old ; he  could help in the househould and in 1658 his mother  brought him from Grantham back to Woolsthorpe. He remained in the village for 2 years, a period considered long  enough for a teenager.

Newton had the passion to construct complicated mechanical toys, models of water and sun mills. The child liked to make kites which were flied in the night to which he hanged lamps of coloured paper and, on this occasion, as a joke, he spreaded  rumours about a new comet. The husband of Newton´s nephew , Condwitt, tells that Isaac considered as his first test  of physics , the test  made  in 1658, namely : to determine the wind power during a storm, he measured the length of his jump on the wind direction and on the contrary direction.

Several testimonies confirm that  Newton had a talent at drawing. On the walls of his room in the house of the druggist there were hung drawings, portraits of the leaders of  Grantham school , the image of  King  Carol I (this picture in the  Newton´s room gives an idea about his royalistical  political feelings  during Cromwell epoque). Under the king´s figure there were verse which the old biographs attributed to Newton himself.

It seems that the sole idyll in  Newton´s life belongs to the period of his living  in Grantham. In the house of the druggist he became friend with the little Miss Storey, who was in the care of the druggist. The friendship between them transformed  later in love and they intended to marry. But, finally, when Newton decided to take up the University  carrier  he renounced to  the intention to marry . According to the medieval tradition the College members had to remain unmarried. The sole professor who effectively exert a great influence on Newton was Isaac Barrow, who was the first professor who led  the Lucas  desk. Isaac Barrow (1630 – 1667), a young professor during the period in which Newton was a student became probably later his friend.

The young man Newton was saving and tidy in his expenses  ; he spent money only for books and scientific devices.  Since he became a member of the College, his incomes reached  200-250 sterling  pounds yearly, considered an important value  especially in a country side.

Royal Society became the main arena of the fight and of the scientific victories of Newton. From November  30 ,1703 up to the end of his life he was the president of this society.

Soon, Newton’s telescope became a symbol of the national pride in Great Britain and the prefered apparatus of English astronomers.  Many efforts for its improvement were made by Edmund Halley just during  the Newton’s life. He continued to work for improving the apparatus for at least 10 years . In Optica it is mentioned that in the period 1681-1682 he tried to replace the metallic mirror by a meniscus of glass covered by mercury  on its convex side. The reflecting telescope was used successfully for very important  astronomic discoveries by William Herschel, who built in 1789 an instrument having a mirror of a diametre of 122cm.

Newton’s telescope may be considered as a prelude of all his later activity.

Avoiding chromatic aberation was the start of all optical researches made by  Newton; searchig for the suitable alloy for mirrors  probably contributed in a great extent to his later chemical researches and to the competent management of the Brittish Mint. The direct target of the telescope – the world of stars- attracted Newton to the fundamentals  of  celestial mechanics. Finaly, the useless work to non-spherical surfaces which preceeded the reflector was inevitably linked to the geometry of conical surfaces and to the general problems of the analysis .

If We take into account that Newton at least theoretically worked also in the field of acoustics, We note that the traces of his activity  may be seen in all the fields of physics : in mechanics, in heat, in the theory of sound, in light , in electricity and magnetism and in the field of those phenomena which today are joined into the denomination of „molecular physics”.

The Newton’s scientific triumph in his last decades of life was accompanied in some extent with an external wellfare : the honours of The Pallace, the respect of disciples, a good living at home. His old age was quiet, without complications and unexpected hapennings. A  serious disorder of  bladder accompanied by a lithiasis was found as late as on the age of 80.  Although he held a high position, he remained up to his last days  a modest and simple man in his relations with  others. According to the testimony of several contemporaries, Newton had nothing particular in his  aspect which to draw the atention.  He  had a sub-medium height and a strong lively sight. The numerous oil portraits confirms the opinions of his contemporaries.  Newton had an excelent health ; according to Condwitt, he lost only a molar tooth up to the end of his life and at old age he kept a thick and beautiful hair of a splendid white colour. Sometimes he tied his hair with a bow. Newton was not a good conversation partner, being always thoughtful. In this respect, there were kept  many jokes concening his manner of entertaining.  Being sparing and tidy he always helped with pleasure his friends and relations An important inheritance of 32.000 pound sterling remained after his death .

In fact,Newton ceased to work in the Mint in the year 1725 and  handed over  his functions to his nephew’s husband – Condwitt. He was transphered to Kensington, and on February 28, 1727 he went to  London to preside the meeting of the Royal Society. At coming back to Kensington, on March 4 he suffered a lithiasis crisis. For a few days there were hopes for Newton’s health recovery; on March 18, Newton read the newspapers  and  had a conversation with his doctor  and with Condwitt. In the evening of the same day  he lost his conscience  and died quietly in the night of March 21/22 at the age of 84. Newton’s body was transported from  Kensington to London and was buried   at Westminster. After four years the Newton’s relations raised at his grave a monument with his image and decorated by various emblems and symbols.