Sir Isaac Newton Essay

1688 words - 7 pages

Sir Isaac Newton was born on January 4, 1643, in the manor house of Woolsthorpe, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, England. Newton came from a family of modest yeoman farmers. His father died several months before he was born. His mother remarried and moved to a nearby village three years later. She left Isaac in the care of his maternal grandmother. Upon the death of his stepfather in 1656, Newton's mother removed him from grammar school in Grantham in hopes of training him to manage her now much enlarged estate, but even then Newton's interest ran more toward books and mathematical diversions. His family decided that he should be prepared for the university, and he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in June 1661.Even though instruction at Cambridge was still dominated by the philosophy of Aristotle, some freedom of study was permitted in the student's third year. Newton immersed himself in the new mechanical philosophy of Descartes, Gassed, and Boyle; in the new algebra and analytical geometry of Vista, Descartes, and Wallis' and in the mechanics and Copernican astronomy of Galileo. During this stage of time, Newton did not showed much great talent. His scientific genius emerged suddenly when the plague closed the university in the summer of 1665 and he had to return to Lincolnshire. Within the 18 months he is in Lincolnshire Newton began revolutionary advances in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy.OpticsNewton's initial lectures as Lucasian Professor dealt with optics, including his remarkable discoveries made during the plague years. He had reached the revolutionary conclusion that white light is not a simple, homogeneous entity, as natural philosophers since Aristotle had believed. Newton did a simple experiment on the light by using a glass prism and passed a thin beam of sunlight through it. He noticed the spectrum of colors- read, yellow, green, blue, and violet- that formed on the wall opposite. Newton also showed that the spectrum was too long to be explained by the accepted theory of the bending or refraction of light by dense media. The old theory stated that all rays of white light striking the prism at the same angle would be equally refracted. Newton's theory was that white light is really a mixture of different type of rays, that the different types of rays are refracted at slightly different angles, and that each different type of ray is responsible for producing a given spectral color. This experiment proved Newton's theory. He selected out of the spectrum a narrow band of light of one color and sends it through a second prism and observed that no further elongation occurred. All the selected rays of one color were refracted at the same angle. Because of this discovery, Newton conclusion that telescopes using refracting lenses could never overcome the distortions of chromatic dispersion. Therefore, he proposed and constructed a reflecting telescope, and the prototype of the largest modern optical telescopes. He donated an...

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