Isaac Newton

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – Sir Isaac Newton

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – Sir Isaac Newton

Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller (1689) On January 4, 1643 [N.S.] (25 December 1642 [O.S.]), Sir Isaac Newton, famous physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian, was born. With his Principia Newton laid the foundation of modern classical mechanics. Besides he constructed the very first reflecting telescope and independent of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed differential and integral calculus [10]. “We are to admit no more causes…
Alexis Clairaut and the Figure of the Earth

Alexis Clairaut and the Figure of the Earth

On May 13, 1713, French mathematician, astronomer, and geophysicist Alexis Claude Clairaut was born. Clairaut was one of the key figures in the expedition to Lapland that helped to confirm Newton’s theory for the figure of the Earth. In that context, Clairaut worked out a mathematical result now known as “Clairaut’s theorem”. He also tackled the gravitational three-body problem, being the first to obtain a satisfactory result for the apsidal…
Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

Roger Cotes and Newton’s Principia Mathematica

On July 10, 1682, English mathematician Roger Cotes was born. Cotes is well known for working closely with Isaac Newton by proofreading the second edition of his famous book, the Principia, before publication. He also invented the quadrature formulas known as Newton–Cotes formulas and first introduced what is known today as Euler’s formula. “If he had lived we would have known something.”, Remark of Issac Newton on the early death…
Edmond Halley besides the Eponymous Comet

Edmond Halley besides the Eponymous Comet

On November 8, 1656, English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist Sir Edmond Halley was born. Of course everybody has heard of Halley’s comet. We too already had an article on that topic [1]. But, Edmond Halley did much more than calculating the orbit of the eponymous comet. He compiled a catalogue of the stars of the Southern hemisphere, he also improved the sextant, and made observations about the ocean…
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his Theory of Colours

On August 28, 1749, famous German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. Besides his merrits in literature, poetry, and philosophy, that we already did acknowledge in previous articles, Goethe was also interested in natural sciences. He independently discovered the human intermaxillary bone in 1784, was one of the many precursors in the history of evolutionary thought, popularized the Goethe barometer using a principle established by Torricelli, and published his Theory…
William Stukeley and the Mystery of Stonehenge

William Stukeley and the Mystery of Stonehenge

Stonehenge, photo: wikipedia On November 7, 1687, English antiquarian and Anglican clergyman William Stukeley was born. He pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as probably the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology. Stukeley was also one of the first biographers of Isaac Newton, of whom he was a friend. William Stukeley was born in Holbeach in…
Brook Taylor – Forerunner of Differential Calculus

Brook Taylor – Forerunner of Differential Calculus

Brook Taylor (1685–1731) On August 18, 1685, English mathematician Brook Taylor was born. He is best known for Taylor’s theorem and the Taylor series, a method for expanding functions into infinite series. Brook Taylor was born in Edmonton to John Taylor of Bifrons House, Kent, and Olivia Tempest in 1685. It was the year when King Charles II passed away and his Roman Catholic brother succeeded him as King James II of…
Immanuel Kant – Philosopher of the Enlightenment

Immanuel Kant – Philosopher of the Enlightenment

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) On February 12, 1804, the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant passed away. He is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics,…
Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

Urbain Le Verrier (1811 – 1877 On 2 January 1860, French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier announced the discovery of Vulcan, a hypothetical planet inside the Mercury orbit, to a meeting of the Académie des Sciences in Paris. Despite the lack of any reliable observation, Le Verrier really was convinced until his death that he had discovered a new planet. It was Einstein’s special theory of relativity and a completely new understanding…
A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

A great man whose only fault was being a woman – Émilie du Châtelet

Émilie du Châtelet (1706-1749) On December 17, 1706, French mathematician, physicist, and author Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Châtelet was born. Her major achievement is considered to be her translation and commentary on Isaac Newton‘s work Principia Mathematica, which still is the standard French translation of Newton‘s work today. Philosopher and author Voltaire, one of her lovers, once declared in a letter to his friend King Frederick…
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