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Isaac Newton - Profile of the physicist

Isaac Newton is one of the most important scientists of all time. Among other things, he wrote the theory of gravity (gravitational theory) and demonstrated the composition of light. You can read how the physicist lived here

Sir Isaac Newton

  • Life data: December 25, 1642 to March 20, 1726
  • Nationality: British
  • Quote:"What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean."

The physicist Isaac Newton brought important discoveries for science.

How Isaac Newton lived

Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643, just a few days after the death of Galileo Galilei in Woolsthorpe, England. He grew up with his grandmother in Woolsthorpe until he was ten years old. Only after the death of his stepfather did his mother take him in again. Newton developed well despite the difficult family circumstances.

Contrary to his family's plans to take over the farm in Woolsthorpe, the boy enrolled at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1661 to study. He graduated with top marks.

But instead of continuing to study, he had to move back to his parents' house. Because of the plague that raged in the south of England in 1665 and 1666, all universities were closed. So the inquisitive Newton devoted himself to his research.

He mainly worked on the problems of optics, algebra and mechanics. He once said later that these two years were the culmination of his discoveries.

Ingenious star explorer Johannes Kepler

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How Isaac Newton changed the world

After the plague, Newton became a member of Trinity College and in 1669 a teacher of mathematics. Later he also taught optics, where he was particularly concerned with the refraction of light. Based on his findings, he built a reflecting telescope in 1672 and published his first writings at the same time.

But Isaac Newton was very emotional. Quarrels or criticism of his work affected him very much. That is why he withdrew step by step from public science and mostly only researched alone. A dispute even drove Newton to a nervous breakdown in 1678. When his mother died a little later, Newton initially separated himself completely from the public.

It was not until 1684 that he slowly returned to everyday life and laid the foundation for his greatest discoveries: In his work "Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica" (Mathematical Principles of Nature) from 1687, he combined the research of Galileo Galilei on acceleration with that of Johannes Kepler on the Planetary motions and those of Descartes to the problem of inertia.

Isaac Newton's theory of gravitation

Isaac Newton invented the "Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica", the theory of gravity, also known as the theory of gravitation. With the law of gravitation he proves that bodies attract each other and act on each other with their gravity. This knowledge is of great importance both astronomically (related to stars and planets) and in everyday life. Newton therefore explained physically why an apple falls to the ground in the first place. Now the scientist was internationally famous.

In 1696 he was declared a wardein (a guard or guardian in the Middle Ages) of the English mint, the Royal Mint, and moved to London. In 1701 he finally gave up his professorship in Cambridge and was heavily involved in politics. For this he was knighted years later.

The scientist always studied new subjects and focuses at the same time. Because when it came to knowledge, Newton was insatiable. He taught himself a large part of mathematics, physics and astronomy.

His scientific discoveries made him a respected man - Newton was famous and wealthy. On March 20, 1726 he died of the consequences of severe bladder stones. Many more of the physicist's works were published after Isaac Newton's death.

Law of gravitation: The Newton pendulum

You have surely seen this "toy" on a desk before. But did you know that this item is called "Newton's Pendulum", also known as "Newton's Cradle"?

If you let one ball of the Newton pendulum strike against the others, this ball simply comes to a standstill. Instead, a ball flies away on the opposite side of the Newton pendulum! It also works with multiple balls.

From a physical point of view, the collision of the balls is an elastic shock in which the momentum and the kinetic energy are retained. The first ball transfers its shock impulse to the second ball and then comes to rest.

From the second ball the impulse travels over the third, fourth, fifth, sixth ball and up to the seventh ball. This last ball can no longer transmit the impulse and flies away to the side. The energy is almost completely retained because friction and angular momentum can be neglected.