Mama and Papa don’t seem to think much of Mr Newton. ‘The man is full of all sorts of nonsense about science.’
Another science post ladies and gentlemen. I have always talked about what an important subject it is and today we will be looking at Sir Isaac Newton.
Today is also a very important day concerning Sir Isaac Newton because the Royal Society have published the manuscripts of his life, by physician and biographer William Stukeley, including the events of that very famous apple that changed the way that we looked at the world. I wanted to put a quote from the manuscripts on here but the Royal Society website is jam packed with so many visitors that I cannot even get onto it. It looks like everyone wants to know the story.
But let us move on and talk about the man himself.
A Cambridge graduate, Isaac Newton is known by most as the one who sat under a tree and discovered gravity just because an apple fell down. There was a lot more to him than that, we seem to know the anecdote and not the science. What he questioned was not just how objects on earth were pulled down to the ground. Instead, what if this had extended to the universe as well? Like the moon, the planets and Earth itself.
What Newton brought to the world of science are things that you have learned about in school. Does the formula F=MA ring a bell? It should. According to Newton there were three laws of motion. We shall put them simply.
1) All objects will stay stationary, or at a constant speed, if extra force is not applied to it
2) The acceleration of an object is dependent on the mass of the object and the amount of force that is being applied to it, and can be calculated with the formula F=MA
3) For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
You will have witnessed the third law in what is properly known as Newton’s cradle. Have you ever seen those five pendulums in a metal frame, where if you swing one ball on one side then the exact same one of the other side will be forced to move as well and they both go back and forth? That is Newton’s third law in action.
Optics was very important as well. It is because of him that we understand how a prism can disperse a beam of white light into a spectrum of different colours.
What you may not know is that Newton was a man of religion as well. He spent a lot of time studying the Bible and credited some of the more amazing aspects of the world to a divine being. Although he was born into an Anglican family he did not share the same views on religion and God as his peers, of course he kept a lot of this a secret.
He became a fellow of the Royal Society in London in 1671 and President in 1703. He was also a Warden of the Royal Mint, where he would investigate counterfeit coins – a crime punishable by being hanged drawn and quartered.