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Isaac Newton Man, Myth, and Mathematics V. Frederick Rickey fred-rickey@usma.edu

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1702 portrait by Kneller The original is in the National Portrait Gallery in LondonNational Portrait Gallery

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Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire The South Front of the House with the apple tree to the right. It is a T-shaped early 17th. century limestone house, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton on Dec. 25th. 1642

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Newton’s Public Life 1642Born, Woolsthorp 1661To Trinity College Cambridge 1665B.A. 1668M.A. 1669Lucasian Professor 1672Fellow of the Royal Society 1687Resists King James II 1689Serves in Parliament 1696Warden of the Mint 1700Master of the Mint 1700-1722Priority dispute over the calculus 1703President of the Royal Society 1705Knighted 1727Died, London

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Trinity College, Cantabrigia illustrata by David Loggan, 1690

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I tooke a bodkine & put it betwixt my eye & the bone as near the backside of my eye as I could

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Newton’s alchemical shed. Was Loggan the preincarnation of Escher?

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Newton’s Mathematical Readings BarrowEuclid (1655) OughtredClavis (1652) Descartes2 nd Latin (1659-60) SchootenExercitationum (1657) VieteOpera (1646) WallisArithmetica infinitorum (1655) WallisTractatus duo (1659)

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Took Descartes’s Geometry in hand, tho he had been told it would be very difficult, read some ten pages in it, then stopt, began again, went a little farther than the first time, stopt again, went back again to the beginning, read on til by degrees he made himself master of the whole, to that degree that he understood Descartes’s Geometry better than he had done Euclid.

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Descartes’s Geometry, 1637, 1659

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Descartes adopted Aristotle’s dictum The proportion between straight lines and curves is not known and I even believe that it can never be known by man.

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van Heurat on Arc Length, 1661

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van Heuraet’s rectification, 1659

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Rectification Destroyed Aristotle’s dictum and Descartes’s program But the story ends well.

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The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus A Method whereby to square such crooked lines as may be squared.

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For Newton Mathematical quantities are described by Continuous Motion. –E.g., Curves are generated by moving points In Modern Terms: All variables are functions of time

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Newton said that quantities flow, and so called them fluents. How fast they flow – or flex – he called fluxions. Par abuse de langu, d/dt ( fluent ) = fluxion

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The Newtonian Telescope

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Edmund Halley (1656-1742)

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Centripital Force implies Kepler II

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The Law of Universal Gravitation

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Newton in 1689 From a portrait by Kneller

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The most important scientific book of all time

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A Vulgar Mechanick can practice what he has been taught or seen done, but if he is in an error he knows not how to find it out and correct it, and if you put him out of his road, he is at a stand; Whereas he that is able to reason nimbly and judiciously about figure, force, and motion, is never at rest till he gets over every rub. Newton to Nathaniel Hawes, 25 May 1694.

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The Sir Isaac Newton Room Newton's lived on St. Martin's Street, Leicester Square, London, from 1710 to 1725. The pine-paneled walls and carved mantel from the fore-parlour were purchased in 1937 for Babson College. The room is furnished with original artifacts and period reproductions.

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The “Newton Apple” There really was an apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor. A fourth generation descendent at Babson College is known as the "Newton Apple". The apple is red and "mealy" with yellow and green stripes.

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Newton at the mint This was supposed to be a sinacure. But Newton took is seriously.

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To the sharpest mathematicians now flourishing throughout the world To determine the curved line joining two given points, situated at different distances from the horizontal and not in the same vertical line, along which a mobile body, running down by its own weight and starting to move from the upper point, will descend most quickly to the lowest point.

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I do not know what I may seem to the world, but, as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

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From a portrait by Sir James Thornhill in 1712 The original is in Woolsthorpe Manor Woolsthorpe Manor

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Isaac Newton was A GENIUS who worked hard He built “On y e sholders of Giants” He had brilliant insights He worked “by thinking continually” He had stubborn perseverence He steadily expanded his inquiries He made mistake – and learned from them

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A statue in Trinity College, Cambridge

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Newton Myths A student of Isaac Barrow Did his best work back on the farm Invented calculus to do physics Primarily a physicist Principia “Invented by analysis” Universal gravitation a flash of insight in 1666 Delayed 20 years publishing the Principia Alchemy and Theology were diversions Prodigious computational facility Old age mathematically barren Invented edging on coins

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Newton’s death mask Formerly owned by Thomas Jefferson

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