Friday, 11 July 2008

Sir Isaac Newton

Today, my six years old son Ravi Raman K.C. asked me about scientist Newton. I was surprised with his question. How did he know about Newton was the matter of surprise for me. We never talked about Newton in house, however sometimes, we used to talk about Einstein. But today, he talked to me about Newton. May be he heard about Newton from Kindergarten.
Then, I looked in google and found following information regarding me. Many things about him was new to me, hence thought might be interesting for some of you also, so posting in our blog.

Sir Isaac Newton, FRS (4 January 164331 March 1727 [OS: 25 December 164220 March 1727]) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian. His Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, is considered to be the most influential book in the history of science. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, laying the groundwork for classical mechanics, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries and is the basis for modern engineering. Newton showed that the motions of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws by demonstrating the consistency between Kepler's laws of planetary motion and his theory of gravitation, thus removing the last doubts about heliocentrism and advancing the scientific revolution.
In mechanics, Newton enunciated the principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum. In optics, he invented the reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into a visible spectrum. He also formulated an empirical law of cooling and studied the speed of sound.
In mathematics, Newton shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz for the development of calculus. He also demonstrated the generalized binomial theorem, developed the so-called "Newton's method" for approximating the zeroes of a function, and contributed to the study of power series.
In a 2005 poll of the Royal Society asking who had the greater effect on the history of science, Newton was deemed much more influential than Albert Einstein.
Early years:
Isaac Newton was born December 25 1642 [OS: 25 December 1642] at Woolsthorpe Manor in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, a hamlet in the county of Lincolnshire. At the time of Newton's birth, England had not adopted the latest papal calendar and therefore his date of birth was recorded as Christmas Day, 25 December 1642. Newton was born three months after the death of his father. Born prematurely, he was a small child; his mother Hannah Ayscough reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug. When Newton was three, his mother remarried and went to live with her new husband, the Reverend Barnabus Smith, leaving her son in the care of his maternal grandmother, Margery Ayscough. The young Isaac disliked his stepfather and held some enmity towards his mother for marrying him, as revealed by this entry in a list of sins committed up to the age of 19: Threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them.
Newton began his schooling in the village schools and was later sent to The King's School, Grantham, where he became the top student in the school. At King's, he lodged with the local apothecary, William Clarke and eventually became engaged to the apothecary's stepdaughter, Anne Storer, before he went off to the University of Cambridge at the age of 19. As Newton became engrossed in his studies, the romance cooled and Miss Storer married someone else. It is said he kept a warm memory of this love, but Newton had no other recorded "sweet-hearts" and never married.
There are rumours that he remained a virgin.However, Bell and Eves' sources for this claim, William Stukeley and Mrs. Vincent (the former Miss Storer — actually named Katherine, not Anne), merely say that Newton entertained "a passion" for Storer while he lodged at the Clarke house. From the age of about twelve until he was seventeen, Newton was educated at The King's School, Grantham (where his signature can still be seen upon a library window sill). He was removed from school, and by October 1659, he was to be found at Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, where his mother, widowed by now for a second time, attempted to make a farmer of him. He was, by later reports of his contemporaries, thoroughly unhappy with the work. It appears to have been Henry Stokes, master at the King's School, who persuaded his mother to send him back to school so that he might complete his education. This he did at the age of eighteen, achieving an admirable final report.
In June 1661, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. According to John Stillwell, he entered Trinity as a sizar. At that time, the college's teachings were based on those of Aristotle, but Newton preferred to read the more advanced ideas of modern philosophers such as Descartes and astronomers such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler. In 1665, he discovered the generalized binomial theorem and began to develop a mathematical theory that would later become calculus. Soon after Newton had obtained his degree in August of 1665, the University closed down as a precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished as a Cambridge student, Newton's private studies at his home in Woolsthorpe over the subsequent two years saw the development of his theories on calculus, optics and the law of gravitation.
Middle years :
Most modern historians believe that Newton and Leibniz had developed calculus independently, using their own unique notations. According to Newton's inner circle, Newton had worked out his method years before Leibniz, yet he published almost nothing about it until 1693, and did not give a full account until 1704. Meanwhile, Leibniz began publishing a full account of his methods in 1684. Moreover, Leibniz's notation and "differential Method" were universally adopted on the Continent, and after 1820 or so, in the British Empire. Whereas Leibniz's notebooks show the advancement of the ideas from early stages until maturity, there is only the end product in Newton's known notes. Newton claimed that he had been reluctant to publish his calculus because he feared being mocked for it. Newton had a very close relationship with Swiss mathematician Nicolas Fatio de Duillier, who from the beginning was impressed by Newton's gravitational theory. In 1691 Duillier planned to prepare a new version of Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, but never finished it. Some of Newton's biographers have suggested that the relationship may have been romantic. However, in 1694 the relationship between the two men cooled down. At the time, Duillier had also exchanged several letters with Leibniz. Starting in 1699, other members of the Royal Society (of which Newton was a member) accused Leibniz of plagiarism, and the dispute broke out in full force in 1711. Newton's Royal Society proclaimed in a study that it was Newton who was the true discoverer and labeled Leibniz a fraud. This study was cast into doubt when it was later found that Newton himself wrote the study's concluding remarks on Leibniz. Thus began the bitter Newton v. Leibniz calculus controversy, which marred the lives of both Newton and Leibniz until the latter's death in 1716. Newton is generally credited with the generalized binomial theorem, valid for any exponent. He discovered Newton's identities, Newton's method, classified cubic plane curves (polynomials of degree three in two variables), made substantial contributions to the theory of finite differences, and was the first to use fractional indices and to employ coordinate geometry to derive solutions to Diophantine equations. He approximated partial sums of the harmonic series by logarithms (a precursor to Euler's summation formula), and was the first to use power series with confidence and to revert power series. He also discovered a new formula for calculating pi.
He was elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 1669. In that day, any fellow of Cambridge or Oxford had to be an ordained Anglican priest. However, the terms of the Lucasian professorship required that the holder not be active in the church (presumably so as to have more time for science). Newton argued that this should exempt him from the ordination requirement, and Charles II, whose permission was needed, accepted this argument. Thus a conflict between Newton's religious views and Anglican orthodoxy was averted.
Newton's apple
A popular story claims that Newton was inspired to formulate his theory of universal gravitation by the fall of an apple from a tree. Cartoons have gone further to suggest the apple actually hit Newton's head, and that its impact somehow made him aware of the force of gravity. John Conduitt, Newton's assistant at the Royal Mint and husband of Newton's niece, described the event when he wrote about Newton's life:
The question was not whether gravity existed, but whether it extended so far from Earth that it could also be the force holding the moon to its orbit. Newton showed that if the force decreased as the inverse square of the distance, one could indeed calculate the Moon's orbital period, and get good agreement. He guessed the same force was responsible for other orbital motions, and hence named it "universal gravitation".
A contemporary writer, William Stukeley, recorded in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life a conversation with Newton in Kensington on 15 April 1726, in which Newton recalled "when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth's centre." In similar terms, Voltaire wrote in his Essay on Epic Poetry (1727), "Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens, had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree." These accounts are probably exaggerations of Newton's own tale about sitting by a window in his home (Woolsthorpe Manor) and watching an apple fall from a tree.
Various trees are claimed to be "the" apple tree which Newton describes. The King's School, Grantham, claims that the tree was purchased by the school, uprooted and transported to the headmaster's garden some years later, the staff of the National Trust-owned Woolsthorpe Manor dispute this, and claim that a tree present in their gardens is the one described by Newton. A descendant of the original tree can be seen growing outside the main gate of Trinity College, Cambridge, below the room Newton lived in when he studied there. The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale can supply grafts from their tree (ref 1948-729), which appears identical to Flower of Kent, a coarse-fleshed cooking variety.