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The life and work of Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton has been considered one of the most outstanding scientists of all time.

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The life and work of Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton has been considered one of the most outstanding scientists of all time.  He has often been portrayed as a man who saw the world in absolutes and adopted an image of a scientist who after centuries of ignorance and superstition gave rise to a time of empirical science in a modern world.  However various sources have personified Newton in a different light.  There is evidence to suggest that Newton was a seeker of a synthesis of all knowledge and believed that there was a unified theory of the principles of the universe.  It also suggests the he believed that this synthesis was once known to mankind.   Newton spent his life looking for this combination of complex ideas not only through mathematics and physics but through the pursuit of alchemy, chronology, and theology, always seeking to include God in all his investigations.  This essay will look at the journey of Newton’s life, from his early years to his death, his discoveries through his life in mathematics and physics, his relationships and feuds with other scientists.  It will also at how Newton’s findings formed the basis of mathematics for the next three hundred years.

In the seventeenth century, science was in its infancy.  Many people, including educated people still believed in witchcraft and sorcery.  Almost nothing was known about the fundamental principles behind the way many things worked.  According to White (1990) most people believed that the universe was controlled by an all powerful deity and many observed events and phenomena were caused by spirits and inexplicable mystical forces.

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So that Newton could pursue his passion for mathematics Newton needed to secure a permanent position at Cambridge.  In 1664 Newton’s was awarded a scholarshiph of the house which guaranteed him a position for the next four years.  According to BBC – History (pg 1) it was at this point that Newton would surrender himself to his mathematics, forgetting to eat, and sometimes forgetting to sleep.

During this time Newton described to the fellows what is often called his cruicial experiment, in which he used two prisms to demonstrate that sunlight is composed of coloured rays of light.  He aimed to reject the view of Descartes, which was essentially Descartes’s reworking of the Aristotelian ideas, that the colours we see around us occur because white light is modified when it interacts with the objects surface.  Newton argued that different colours are inherently present in sunlight.  Conceiving light as streams of particles that are slowed down when they pass through the glass, he explained that a prism separates light out into its constitutional coloured rays.  In this early work on optics, Newton laid tge basis fir his experimental approach.  Which profoundly affected the ideology if scientific research.  He insisted that the way forward was not to devise abstract hypothesis, but to build theories on the twin pillars of mathematics and experiment.  Newtons innovations have become fundamental principles of modern science.  Before then geometry, experimentation and natural philosophy had been three distinct domains.  Newton preached that theories would be theconsequence of observation, not the inspiration.

The Plague hits Cambridge and Newton returns to Woolsthorpe

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“In the eighteenth century and sice, Newton came to be thought of as the firsr and greatest of the modern age of scientists, a rationalist, one who taught us to think on the lines of cold and untictured reason.  I do not see him inj this light, I do not think that anyone who has poured over the contents of that box which he packed away when he left Cambridge in 1696 and which, thought partly dispersed, have come down to us, can see him like that.  Newton was not the first age of reason, He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.  Isaac Newton a posthumous child born with no father on Christmas day. 1642, was the last wonder child to whom the Magi could do sincere and appropriate homage.”

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