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ISAAC NEWTON The world would be very different from how it is now if it weren t for Isaac Newton. His discoveries are the foundation of science as we know it today. Many people consider him to be the father of modern science. Many of his equations and formulas are still used by scientists and mathematicians all over the world. One of the many fields of study Isaac Newton helped to advance was astronomy. Before Newton s time, the movements of the planets were thought to have been controlled by magical or supernatural forces.
Several hundred years ago, when somebody went against these beliefs they were ridiculed and sometimes put to death. Fortunately for the advancement of human knowledge, Newton was able to make his discoveries during a time period in which new theories were not such a harshly punishable offense. The most famous and arguably the most important of Isaac Newton s astronomy-related discoveries was his law of gravity. He stated that all masses attract one another with a force that varies in proportion to the product of the two object s masses, and in inverse proportion to the square of the distance between the centers of the objects. He used this inverse square law to explain why the planets orbit the Sun and the moon orbits the Earth. Newton s Three Laws of Motion were another of his creations that detail how masses orbit each other in space.
The laws are as follows: Every body will remain stationary or continue moving in a straight line until acted upon by an outside force, the rate of change in linear motion of a body is proportional to the force applied to it, and finally, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The first of these laws explains in simple terms why the planets seem to orbit the sun endlessly without slowing down. Not only did Isaac Newton come up with explanations of how masses orbit each other in space, he also made calculations to predict the orbits. Basically, he could predict the location of an object at a given time if he had coordinates for a few points on its path of orbit and the speed at which the object was moving.
These calculations came to be known as calculus. These equations are still used by astronomers, with very little variation from the ones created by Newton several hundred years ago. Another of Newton s major contributions to the field of astronomy was the invention of the reflecting telescope. This replaced the Galilean refracting telescope, which was simply a tube with a concave lens on one end for an eyepiece and a convex lens on the other. The reflecting telescope gives a much clearer and more accurate view of the solar system than its predecessor. Newton s design was definitely a good one, because the basic design principles from the reflecting telescope are still used today for our modern telescopes.
Newton s contributions to the field of astronomy and science in general were very great indeed. Had it not been for his discoveries, mankind would probably be a great deal less technologically advanced today. His discoveries in astronomy were the stepping stone to our modern view of the stars.
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