|Galilei Galileo (1564-1642) an Italian
physicist and astronomer, was greatly remembered for some very important
contributions to astronomy and physics. He was also known for
his battle against the authorities for freedom of inquiry. Early
in his life, Galileo was taught by monks at Vallombrosa, and then
entered the university of Pisa in 1581 to study medicine. He
soon turned to philosophy and mathematics and left the University
without a degree in 1585. In 1589 he became professor of mathematics
at Pisa. He supposedly taught theories that contradicted Aristotle's
theories, and in 1592 his contract was not renewed. The same year
he was appointed the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua,
which he remained at until 1610. While at Padua, he invented
a 'calculating compass' for solving mathematics problems. In
1609 he heard that in Holland a spy glass had been invented, and he
was inspired to create the first telescope, which was as powerful
as a modern day field glass. By December of the same year, he
had built another telescop twenty times stronger than the first, which
he was able to discovery craters on the moon with, stars in the milky
way, and the four largest satellites of Jupiter. He had also observed
the phases of Venus by this time. After his great discoveries,
he mainly stuck to writing books. In 1613 he published a book
about sunspots, 1624 a book called Dialogue on the Tides, which he
discusses Ptolemaic and Copernican theories, in which he got himself
reprimanded by the Inquisition of Rome.
Gabriel Verne was born in 1828, in Nates, France. Jules'
parents were of a sefaring tradition, one factor which influenced
his writings. As a boy, Jules Verne ran off to be a cabin boy on
a merchant ship, but he was cought and returned to his parents.
In 1847 Jules was sent to study law in Paris. While there, however,
his passion for theatre grew. Later in 1850, Jules Verne's first
play was published. His father was outraged when he heard that Jules
was not going to continue law, so he disconinued the money he ws
giving him to pay for his expenses in paris. This forced Verne to
make money by selling his stories.
After spending many hours
in Paris libraries studying geology, engeneering, and astronomy,
Jules Verne published his first novel Five Weeks in a Balloon.
Soon he started writing novels such as Journey to the Center
of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea.
Because of the popularity
of these and other novels, Jules Verne became a very rich man. In
1876, he bought a large yacht and sailed around Europe. The last
novel befor Jules Verne's death was The Invasion of the Sea.
Jules Verne died in the city of Amines in 1905.
Popular Books by Jules
1863 - Five Weeks
in a Balloon
1864 - A Journey to the Center of the Earth
1866 - From the Earth to the Moon
1870 - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
1873 - Around the World in Eighty Days
1874 - Mysterious Island
1904 - Master of the World
In 1642, the year Galileo
died, Isaac ewton was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
on Christmas Day. His father had died three months earlier, and
baby Isaac, very premature, was also not expected to survive. It
was said he could be fitted into a quart pot. When Isaac was three,
his mother married a wealthy elderly clergyman from the next village,
and went to live there, leaving Isaac behind with his grandmother.
The clergyman died, and Isaac's mother came back, after eight years,
bringing with her three small children. Two years later, Newton
went away to the Grammar School in Grantham, where he lodged with
the local apothecary, and was fascinated by the chemicals. The plan
was that at age seventeen he would come home and look after the
farm. He turned out to be a total failure as a farmer.
His mother's brother,
a clergyman who had been an undergraduate at Cambridge, persuaded
his mother that it would be better for Isaac to go to university,
so in 1661 he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. Isaac paid
his way through college for the first three years by waiting tables
and cleaning rooms for the fellows (faculty) and the wealthier students.
In 1664, he was elected a scholar, guaranteeing four years of financial
support. Unfortunately, at that time the plague was spreading across
Europe, and reached Cambridge in the summer of 1665. The university
closed, and Newton returned home, where he spent two years concentrating
on problems in mathematics and physics. He wrote later that during
this time he first understood the theory of gravitation, which we
shall discuss below, and the theory of optics (he was the first
to realize that white light is made up of the colors of the rainbow),
and much mathematics, both integral and differential calculus and
infinite series. However, he was always reluctant to publish anything,
at least until it appeared someone else might get credit for what
he had found earlier.
On returning to Cambridge
in 1667, he began to work on alchemy, but then in 1668 Nicolas Mercator
published a book containing some methods for dealing with infinite
series. Newton immediately wrote a treatise, De Analysi,
expounding his own wider ranging results. His friend and mentor
Isaac Barrow communicated these discoveries to a London mathematician,
but only after some weeks would Newton allow his name to be given.
This brought his work to the attention of the mathematics community
for the first time. Shortly afterwards, Barrow resigned his Lucasian
Professorship (which had been established only in 1663, with Barrow
the first incumbent) at Cambridge so that Newton could have the
Newton's first major
public scientific achievement was the invention, design and
construction of a reflecting telescope. He ground the mirror, built
the tube, and even made his own tools for the job. This was a real
advance in telescope technology, and ensured his election to membership
in the Royal Society. The mirror gave a sharper image than was possible
with a large lens because a lens focusses different colors at slightly
different distances, an effect called chromatic aberration.
This problem is minimized nowadays by using compound lenses, two
lenses of different kinds of glass stuck together, that err in opposite
directions, and thus tend to cancel each other's shortcomings, but
mirrors are still used in large telescopes.
Later in the 1670's,
Newton became very interested in theology. He studied Hebrew scholarship
and ancient and modern theologians at great length, and became convinced
that Christianity had departed from the original teachings of Christ.
He felt unable to accept the current beliefs of the Church of England,
which was unfortunate because he was required as a Fellow of Trinity
College to take holy orders. Happily, the Church of England was
more flexible than the Catholic Church in these matters, and King
Charles II issued a royal decree excusing Newton from the necessity
of taking holy orders! Actually, to prevent this being a wide precedent,
the decree specified that, in perpetuity, the Lucasian professor
need not take holy orders. (The current Lucasian professor is Stephen
In 1684, three members
of the Royal Society, Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and Edmond
Halley, argued as to whether the elliptical orbits of the planets
could result from a gravitational force towards the sun proportional
to the inverse square of the distance.
Halley went up
to Cambridge, and put the problem to Newton, who said he had solved
it four years earlier, but couldn't find the proof among his papers.
Three months later, he sent an improved version of the proof to
Halley, and devoted himself full time to developing these ideas,
culminating in the publication of the Principia in 1686.
This was the book that really did change man's view of the universe,
as we shall shortly discuss, and its importance was fully appreciated
very quickly. Newton became a public figure. He left Cambridge for
London, where he was appointed Master of the Mint, a role he pursued
energetically, as always, including prosecuting counterfeiters.
He was knighted by Queen Anne. He argued with Hooke about who deserved
credit for discovering the connection between elliptical orbits
and the inverse square law until Hooke died in 1703, and he argued
with a German mathematician and philosopher, Leibniz, about which
of them invented calculus. Newton died in 1727, and was buried with
much pomp and circumstance in Westminster Abbey--despite his well-known
reservations about the