Sir Isaac Newton: The Natural Philosopher

By  Nazak Soleimanpour and Joseffina Crespo,
PhD candidates at Polytechnique School of Montreal

Great scientific contributions have been covering the earth since the beginnings of evolution and these have been the result of curiosity, passion and desire for answers that connect us as a human race. The seventeen Century has been described as the century where modern science was founded, due to the fact that many genius minds converged.

This was also the time for the contributions of Sir Isaac Newton, the English physicist, mathematician, and figure of the scientific revolution. Newton turned his attention and efforts to the intellectual work. It is said that his strong interest in philosophy was inspired by Descartes, Plato and Aristoteles, who were at the origin of his scientific career.

Among his most amazing contributions: The foundation for modern physical optics, as well as the establishment of basic principles of modern physics (with the laws of motion). He is the one who came up with the formulation of the law fo universal gravitation and who gifted the world with the infinitesimal calculus as stated in his book  Philosophiae  Naturalis Principia Mathematica Mathematical (Principles of Natural Philosophy).

In his scientific discoveries of the law of universal gravitation, Sir Isaac Newton claims that all particles exert some gravitational force, and the three laws of motion, inertia, acceleration, and action-reaction.

Another interesting discovery of Newton that led to one of his biggest inventions in optics was the corpuscular theory of light. He discovered that white light could be separated by a prism into a spectrum of different colors, characterized by a unique refractivity. To prove his claim that colour is a characteristic of the light, he reformed back the spectrum into the white light using another prism. This discovery has led to his invention of reflecting mirror telescopes. Previous telescopes used a set of glass lenses to magnify an object. These refracting lenses refracted different colors at different angles, blurring the image. Newton proposed the use of reflecting mirrors, improving the image quality while occupying less space. This has led to the invention of smaller telescopes.

Newton also invented the ridges that can be found on the edges of modern coins. These milled edges were introduced to prevent clipping. Last but not least, the invention of the pet door has also been attributed to Newton. It is known that Newton made a large hole for his cat and a small one for her kittens on his office door.

The diversity of his discoveries reveals a glimpse of his interests for small things and creatures but also for complex questions related to the universe. Newton is a great example of how unique can be the contributions of each being to the world.