Born in England in 1643, Isaac Newton was a highly influential physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, alchemist and theologian.
In 1687, Newton published Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, what is widely regarded to be one of the important books in the history of science. In it he describes universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, concepts that remained at the forefront of science for centuries after.
Newton’s law of universal gravitation describes the gravitational attraction between bodies with mass, the earth and moon for example.
Newton’s three laws of motion relate the forces acting on a body to its motion. The first is the law of inertia, it states that ‘every object in motion will stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force’. The second is commonly stated as ‘force equals mass times acceleration’, or F = ma. The third and final law is commonly known as ‘to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’.
Other significant work by Newton includes the principles of conservation related to momentum and angular momentum, the refraction of light, an empirical law of cooling, the building of the first practical telescope and much more.
Newton moved to London in 1696 and took up a role as the Warden of the Royal Mint, overseeing the production of the Pound Sterling.
Newton was known to have said that his work on formulating a theory of gravitation was inspired by watching an apple fall from a tree. A story well publicized to this very day.
In 1705, Newton was knighted by Queen Anne.
After his death in 1727, Newton was buried in Westminster Abbey, the first scientist to be given this honor. He would later be joined by others such as Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford and Stephen Hawking.
Famous Isaac Newton quotes include: "Plato is my friend - Aristotle is my friend - but my greatest friend is truth."
"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of Giants."
"I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people."
"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
"Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things."