Sir Isaac Newton attended the King's School until he was 17 and then went to the University of Cambridge, Trinity College. He was an English mathematician, physicist, philosopher and astronomer. Newton is best known for his development of the laws of gravitation and for his influential work, "Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica."
Newton was born on January 4, 1643, in Lincolnshire, England. He attended Trinity College on a work-study program and waited on tables to pay his way. In his spare time, he studied the works of modern philosophers. He would take notes, later known as "Certain Philosophical Questions," in which Newton revealed he had found a new concept of nature. He graduated college without honors.
The Great Plague of 1665 closed the University of Cambridge, and Newton moved back home. During this time, he developed his methods for calculus and his theories on color and light. It is believed that a falling apple inspired his thoughts on gravity during this time. He moved back to Cambridge in 1667, and in 1672, he published his notes on optics, color and light.
Newton's most influential book, "Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica," was published in 1687. It is in this book that Newton explained the three basic laws of motion:
- A stationary body will remain motionless until affected by an external force.
- Force is equal to mass times acceleration, and a change in motion is proportional to the force applied to it.
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Known simply as "Principa," this book is a foundational text in science and contains almost all essential concepts in physics except energy. Newton continued to work throughout his life. He died in London on March 31, 1727, when he was 85.