Isaac Newton  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sir Isaac Newton, (January 4, 1642 - March 31, 1727), was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian who is considered by many scholars and members of the general public to be one of the most influential men in human history. His 1687 publication of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (usually called the Principia) is considered to be among the most influential books in the history of science, laying the groundwork for most of classical mechanics. In this work, Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. 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.

Newton also built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours that form the 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 the differential and integral calculus. He also demonstrated the generalised binomial theorem, developed the so-called "Newton's method" for approximating the zeroes of a function, and contributed to the study of power series.

Newton remains influential to scientists, as demonstrated by a 2005 survey of members of Britain's Royal Society asking who had the greater effect on the history of science and had the greater contribution to humankind, Newton or Albert Einstein. Royal Society scientists deemed Newton to have made the greater overall contribution on both.

Newton was also highly religious, though an unorthodox Christian, writing more on Biblical hermeneutics and occult studies than the natural science for which he is remembered today.

Enlightenment philosophers

Enlightenment philosophers chose a short history of scientific predecessors — Galileo, Boyle, and Newton principally — as the guides and guarantors of their applications of the singular concept of Nature and Natural Law to every physical and social field of the day. In this respect, the lessons of history and the social structures built upon it could be discarded.

It was Newton's conception of the Universe based upon Natural and rationally understandable laws that became one of the seeds for Enlightenment ideology. Locke and Voltaire applied concepts of Natural Law to political systems advocating intrinsic rights; the physiocrats and Adam Smith applied Natural conceptions of psychology and self-interest to economic systems and the sociologists criticised the current social order for trying to fit history into Natural models of progress. Monboddo and Samuel Clarke resisted elements of Newton's work, but eventually rationalised it to conform with their strong religious views of nature.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Isaac Newton" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools