Astronomy Fundamentals

Medieval Andrenaissance Astronomy

Who was Isaac Newton?

English mathematician, physicist, and astronomer Isaac Newton (1642–1727) is considered one of the greatest geniuses who ever lived. He had to leave Cambridge University in 1665 and work on his family farm when the university was closed owing to an outbreak of bubonic plague. During the next two years, he made a series of remarkable advances in mathematics and science, including the calculus and his laws of motion and universal gravitation. Newton returned to Cambridge University in 1667, and eventually assumed the position of the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics. While there, he made fundamental discoveries about optics, invented a new kind of telescope, and published his greatest work, Principia, in 1687, with the encouragement and financial backing of his acquaintance, the astronomer Edmund Halley.

In his later career, Newton won a seat in the British Parliament and was appointed Master of the Royal Mint. He invented the idea of putting ridges around the edges of coins so people could not shave the coins and keep the precious metal shavings for themselves. The Queen of England knighted him in 1705, the first scientist to be given such an honor. He was also elected head of the Royal Society, the most significant academic body in the world at that time. Sir Isaac Newton died on March 31, 1727, in London, England.


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