Most of you, no doubt, know the story of Newton and the falling apple and how it led to his discovery of the law of
But how much do you know beyond that?
Do you know what kind of man this great scientist was? Or where he stands in the history of science?
If you don't, or even if you do, read the following lesson.
Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day, 1642. He grew up in the English countryside.
From the very first Newton was very much interested in the mysteries of nature.
One of the most difficult scientific problems of Newton's day was about the question of motion.
Why did objects move? Scientists could see that stones rolled down hills, that wind blew leaves along the ground, and
heavy objects fell to the earth when dropped.
After Copernicus, they began to admit that the earth itself moved. "Were there laws that govern these various kinds of
motion?" they asked themselves.
The Greeks had believed there were different rules for motion on earth and in space, and that there were unnatural
movements on the surface of the earth.
Galileo was the first person to challenge this Greek view of motion.
This Italian scientist was a follower of Copernicus.
It didn't make much sense to Galileo to have different rules for motion on earth and in space.
He made two important discoveries.
First, he showed that motion was not unnatural.
On the contrary, an object once in motion would tend to continue in motion.
Second, Galileo worked out a mathematical formula for the motion of all objects that fell to the earth.
Galileo, however, did not explain how all motion in the universe worked.
Much work had been done since Copernicus to observe and record the movements in the solar system.
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