Isaac Newton was a preeminent contributor to the fields of mathematics and physics. He was born in 1642 in Lincolnshire, England, and was described as a natural philosopher during his lifetime. His work guided the scientific revolution during the 17th century. Until today Newton is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution.
As a child Newton attended The King's School in Grantham where he began to develop a foundational knowledge of mathematics. After being widowed for the second time Newton's mother tried to motivate him to become a farmer. He hated leaving school and was re-admitted after the headmaster convinced his mother to let him return. He repeatedly rose to be the highest-ranked pupil.
Newton began studying at Cambridge's Trinity College in 1661. It was there that he recorded his first theories about mechanics. His work was informed by his study of philosophy and astronomy. His discovery of a generalized binomial theorem in 1665 was the starting point from which he developed his theory of calculus.
After obtaining his degree from Trinity Newton spent two years at home studying. He made significant progress developing his theories of optics and calculus. His work impressed professor Isaac Barrow, and he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1672.
The field of optics fascinated Newton. To prove his theories of color and dispersion of light he built a refracting telescope for the Royal Society in 1672. He published his notes of Colors in 1671, and they were later developed into the work Opticks .
Newton published his first collection of work concerning gravitation and mechanics in 1687. Principia was an achievement that had been in development for many years, and defined three universal laws of motion. These laws would go on to create the basis of classical mechanics, and directly advance machinery during the Industrial Revolution. After publishing Principia Newton found himself receiving international recognition and acclaim.
In Newton's later life, when asked for an evaluation of his achievements, he answered, "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself Now and then in finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. "
Later in his life Newton would devote a great deal of time to the study of alchemy and biblical interpretation. He died in 1727 and was interrupted at Westminster Abbey.