Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 by the Julian calendar in use in England at the time; or 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727 by the Gregorian calendar) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and alchemist; who wrote the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (published 5 July 1687), where he described universal gravitation and, via his laws of motion, laid the groundwork for classical mechanics. Newton also shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for the development of differential calculus. However, their work was not a collaboration; they both discovered calculus separately but nearly contemporaneously.

Newton was the first to promulgate a set of natural laws that could govern both terrestrial (earthly) motion and celestial motion. He is associated with the scientific revolution and the advancement of heliocentrism. Newton is also credited with providing mathematical substantiation for Kepler’s laws of planetary motion. He would expand these laws by arguing that orbits (such as those of comets) were not only elliptic; but could also be hyperbolic and parabolic.

He is also notable for his arguments that light was composed of particles. He was the first to realise that the spectrum of colours observed when white light was passed through a prism was inherent in the white light, and not added by the prism as Roger Bacon had claimed in the 13th century.

Newton also developed Newton’s law of cooling, describing the rate of cooling of objects when exposed to air; the binomial theorem in its entirety; and the principles of conservation of momentum and angular momentum. Finally, he studied the speed of sound in air, and voiced a theory of the origin of stars.

**Questions about the text**

1. Isaac Newton was born in…

1642.

1687.

1727.

2. He set the basis for classical mechanics.

True.

False.

We don’t know.

3. He worked together with Leibniz to discover differential calculus.

True.

False.

We don’t know.

4. Newton discovered that light is composed of particles.

True.

False.

We don’t know.

5. He studied the speed of light in air.

True.

False.

We don’t know.

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