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Isaac Newton is arguably one of the most influential scientists in history. Though he lived in the late 1600s, many of his discoveries still affect us in the present. His various theories still hold true even centuries after his death and countless experiments. The scientists able to improve upon his work became famous themselves. Some would say that he was the greatest product of the Enlightenment, the explosion of intellectual knowledge that occurred in his century. So what did Isaac Newton discover?
Sir Isaac Newton’s largest contributions were in the areas of science and mathematics. Newton discovered many of the laws and theories that not only furthered our understanding of the universe, but also gave future scientists the tools to discover how to enter space. He discovered gravitational force and established the three Universal Laws of Motion. By tying these discoveries to the work Johannes Kepler and his Laws of Planetary motion, he established classic mechanics the beginning of modern Physics. This was huge in many ways as he proved definitively the heliocentric model first proposed by Copernicus. He also was the first to propose a set of laws that described the motion of all things in the universe. This served as the basis for our understanding how the universe functions and why it is the way it is. For his time and even now this was a major breakthrough.
His discoveries in mathematics were just as important. He came up with the Binomial Theorem and was one of the two creators of calculus. These discoveries represented a quantum leap in the fields of math and science allowing for calculations that more accurately modeled the behavior of the universe than ever before. Without these advances in math, scientists could not design vehicles to carry us and other machines into space and also plot the best and safest course. Calculus gave scientist the tools to set up a theoretical model of a situation and still account for varying factors. This basic knowledge would help scientist such as Einstein to be able make even greater discoveries such as the Theory of Relativity and Nuclear Fission.
In the end, when we look at Newton’s discoveries we must realize that we are looking at one of the core foundations of the modern sciences. What did Newton discover? He opened humanity’s eyes to new possibilities and even though his work is over three hundred years old it still helps to guide the advance of technology and our scientific understanding of the earth and the universe around us.
If you enjoyed this article there are others on Universe Today that you will enjoy. There is an interesting article on the Gravitational Constant. There is also a great article on “What is the Universe?”
You can also check out Astronomy Cast. Episode 44 Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is particularly interesting.