Newton, Sir Isaac (1642-1727)
Newton, perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, was born on Christmas Day, 1642, at the little village of Woolsthorpe, near Grantham, in Lincolnshire. His father, a farmer, died before he was born; his mother was a woman of intelligence and character for whom Newton retained a great affection all his life. At 18 he went to Trinity College, Cambride,to study mathematics, taking his degree in 1665.
Newton, between the age of 22 and 24, made his three great discoveries: the discovery of the differential CALCULUS, of the nature of the white LIGHT, and of the laws governing the forces of GRAVITATION. He made great contributions in different fields of science. Newton was so clever in mathematics. When he was 45, a famous Swiss mathematician published two problems as a challenge to European mathematicians, Newton received the problems one day and solved them the next. His solutions were sent to the challenger, who immediately recognized them as Newton's from the unmistakable style. Some time later Leibnitz another famous mathematician, set a problem, and this Newton solved between afternoon and bedtime.
In Newton's old age his mind, as active and original as ever, turned chiefly towards theology and chronology.
Newton died when he was 84, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his monument is today.
Newton contributed a lot in Calculus. He developed the use of infinitesimals into the general operation now known as differentiation. Although Newton did his fundamental work earlier than Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), he made little effort to make it known and did not publish his results until 1700. Leibnitz published his results promptly and took a keen interest in making his techniques comprehensible and useful to a wide audience. Consequently, he exerted a much greater influence on mathematicians of the next 150 years than did Newton. Newton and Leibnitz did at one time or another give presentations of their "calculus" that were fairly close to the modern treatments involving limits. Newton did so, for example, in his theory of "prime and ultimate ratios". Newton and Leibnitz and the other prominent mathematicians of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries relied generally on the use of infinitesimals. Their intuition and insight into the problems they studied enabled them to develop most of what is now known as "elementary calculus" and a great deal of more advanced mathematics, even though their arguments did not meet modern standards of rigor.