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There's Something About Newton - Biography
I first learned about the genius of Newton back in fourth grade, as I watched my teacher reproduce Newton's prism experiment. In the darkened fourth grade classroom, my teacher, whose name escapes me, flashed a light through the prism and projected a faint rainbow against the once sterile walls. My teacher proceeded to explain that this reflection, (or more correctly, refraction) of white light lead to Newton's discovery that white light was made up of different colors refracted at different degrees and that raindrops sometimes act like prisms which is why we sometimes see rainbows.
He was born in Stratford, Avon. No, wait, that was Shakespeare. Okay, Newton was born early on Christmas 1642, in the manner house of Wooslthorpe. Eighteen and a half years later, Newton entered Cambridge University. [Westfall 40] Surviving notes of his initial studies indicate that Newton started with Descartes's Geometry. [Westfall 106] Newton quickly absorbed and expanded upon Wallis's Arithmetica infinitorum, together with his geometrical knowledge, Newton eventually developed new and powerful ways of finding the areas under quadratures. [Whiteside 225] Again using the idea of infinitesimal, Newton developed a new approach to tangents which led to his startling discovery of the inverse relation between tangents and areas.
While mathematics was perhaps Newton's first love, he also found time to delve in chemistry, theology, philosophy, and of course, he is the father of dynamics. In fact it was his keen understanding of optics and chemistry which led to his creation of the reflecting telescope- the main reason for his acceptance into the Royal Society. Later on he would become a Lucasian Professor, master of the mint, and after that, President of the Royal Society. In his greatest published work, the Principia, Newton proceeded to unveil the mysteries of gravity and motion. Using his mathematical genius, Newton expanded on Kepler's astronomical findings and from there has forever changed the junior year of high school kids around America.
The second half of the seventeenth century was a time ``ready'' for the discovery of calculus. Some mathematicians were already deeply engrossed in the concepts of tangents of quadratures, although they could not place the inverse relations that the two had with one another. With his superior understanding of seventeenth century mathematics, Newton created a powerful new field of study.