Josh Gettinger

1 st Hour

Mr. Englemann

September 12, 2003


Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton was a physicist and mathematician. A physicist specializes in which is essentially based on measurement and mathematical processes. A mathematician specializes in mathematics, which is the science of expressing and studying the relationships between quantities and magnitudes as represented by numbers and symbols.

Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day, 1642 by the calendar in use of his birth. The present day calendar date would be January 4, 1643. Newton was born in Woolsthorp, Lincolnshire, England. He came from a family of farmers, but never knew his father, also named Isaac Newton who died in October 1642, three months before his son was born. His father was uneducated and could not sign his own name, yet was still a wealthy man. Sir Isaac Newton's mother was Hannah Ayscough. When he was two years old, his mother married Barnabas Smith, a minister of a church in a nearby village, and left Isaac in the care of his grandmother Margery Ayscough. His mother and stepfather had three more children, one half-brother and two half-sisters.

Newton's stepfather died in 1653 and Newton moved back with his mother. He started to attend the Free Grammar School in Grantham. The school was only five miles from his home but he lodged with the Clark family. Newton seemed to show little progress in academic work so his mother took him out of school thinking that her oldest son was the person to manage her affairs. Isaac showed no interest in managing an estate. His uncle, William Ayscough, persuaded his mother that she should allow Isaac to return to school and complete his education. This time he lived with the Stokes, who was the headmaster of the school. Isaac must have convinced those around him that he had academic promise. Stokes had convinced his mother to let him enter a university. He entered his uncle's old college, Trinity College Cambridge on June 5, 1661. Newton's goal in college was to earn a law degree. Newton's interest in mathematics began in 1663. Two years after starting college, he had bought an astrology book and found that he could understand the mathematics in it. After reading a book on trigonometry, he realized that he lacked knowledge in geometry. He read many books on mathematics and earned his bachelor's degree in April 1665.

He had to return to Lincolnshire when the university closed due to the plague in the summer of 1665. In a period of less than two years, Newton began advances in mathematics, optics, physics and astronomy. He laid the foundation for differential and integral calculus, several years before its discovery. Newton produced simple analytical methods and put them into a book but failed to have them published. Isaac Newton earned his Master's Degree and was elected to a major fellowship in July 1668.

In 1675, Newton suffered a mental breakdown that lasted through 1679. He then went to work on the mathematics of orbits. From 1684 to spring 1686 he worked to expand and publish his calculations. In 1687 his work went on to be known as "the Principia", one of the most important works on physics of all times. His work with celestial mechanics created the theory of gravitation.

Newton left Cambridge in 1696 to become a government official in London becoming Warden of the Royal Mint and Master in 1699.   During this time Newton took his duties very seriously.   He revised the British coinage and took severe measures against forgers. He did not resign his position until 1701. Newton became a very rich man adding the income from his estates. In 1703 he was elected president of the Royal Society and was re-elected each year until his death. Queen Ann, the first scientist to be honored for his work, knighted him in 1705. The last years of his life were not easy, dominated with the controversy of who had invented calculus.

Sir Isaac Newton was never married and he had no children. As he became older, he seemed concerned with leaving his image behind so he had many portraits painted. As his health began to deteriorate, he began to share his wealth with his family. After a series of debilitating illnesses, he died on March 31, 1727 in London, England. He was 84 years old at the time of his death.




Resources: Volume Library, Microsoft Encarta