Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist and mathematician (described in his own time as a "natural philosopher") who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution especially in the development of physics


Portrait of Isaac Newton in 1689 (age 46) by Godfrey Kneller. image: wikipedia

His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ("Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus.

Title page of Principia, first edition (1686/1687) written in latin

Newton's Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which dominated scientists' view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. 

Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the Solar System by deriving Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity. 

He then used the same principles to account for the trajectories of comets, the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena, 

 This work also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles. 

His prediction that Earth should be shaped as an oblate spheroid was later vindicated by the measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, which helped convince most Continental European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over the earlier system of Descartes.

Source adapted from Isaac Newton. (2016, January 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:57, January 4, 2016, from