936 words - 4 pages

Born on Christmas Day, 1642, Isaac Newton spent his early childhood in a small farm-house in the hamlet of Woolsthope, sixty miles northwest of Cambridge and one hundred miles from London. Newton's biological father died before he was born and his mother remarried two years later to the Reverend Barnabas Smith. Newton attended the King's School at Grantham at the age of twelve but was brought home by his mother at nearly the age of sixteen to manage the estate. Luckily for science, Newton showed little interest in farming. Newton's childhood acquaintances remember him building a model windmill, ingenious water-mill and many sun-dials (North 5-8).

Newton, as an unsuccessful farmer, entered ...view middle of the document...

This discovery enabled him to find the area under almost any algebraic curve in mathematics and became known as the fundamental theorem of calculus (Westfall 42).

Newton's book, Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, often called Principia for short, was completed by April 1686 and is one of the greatest pieces of scientific literature ever written. Much credit is deserved to Edmond Halley as his initial visit to Cambridge in the fall of 1684 reminded Newton of the work that needed to be completed regarding celestial mechanics. This visit prompted the writing of De motu and quickly lead to the writing of Principia (Cropper 30).

Although a groundbreaking piece of literature, the Principia is one of the most incomprehensible books ever written. In about 500 pages and 340 complicated diagrams, Newton proves his arguments with the use of formally presented propositions with demonstrations. To understand the arguments explained in the book, the reader must comprehend each proposition in sequence (Cropper 31).

Another problem that renders the Principia very difficult for the modern reader is that Newton chose to write the book in ancient geometrical style. This style was preferred by Newton not only because it represented the language of the "ancients," but also because the fluxion language (calculus) he developed had not yet been published. In some aspects, the Principia, along with other ground-breaking scientific literature, was written to be more admired than read (Cropper 30-31).

In Newton's book Principia, he outlined three laws of motion that have come to change the scientific community.

Newton's First Law of Motion

I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

This law is essentially Galileo's...

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