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Britain in the XVII century

The scientific works which brought glory to Newton were written in Cambridge. Among them was his main book - "The Principles". When Newton worked on the book, he slept for five hours a day and had a meal only when he was reminded of it.

In 1691 there was a fire in his house. The main part of manuscripts was lost. Newton had a temporary madness. However, biographers consider another reason to be the main in his illness. It was his long intellectual hard working[1].

In some months Newton recovered. His friend, the Minister of Finance, invited Newton to London to become a head of the Mint. Newton agreed and moved to London. The last thirty years of his life he spent in London. At that time, after a civil war, England was flooded with false money. A financial reform was necessary. The task was to produce such coins which could not be forged easily. Newton’s friend hoped for Newton’s knowledge of metallurgy and the mechanic. Newton solved a task. The mint began to work eight times quicker than before. Disguised, Newton visited bars and taverns and gathered much information about the ways of forgery. The coinage was protected from forgery. In a short time so many coins were produced that all the coins in the country were changed in a week. The successful financial reform was one of the reasons which have defined economic prosperity of England in XVIII century. And Newton was involved in it. Since then, this reform has become a classical example of successful financial reform in the text-books on economics.

The last 20 years of his life Newton lived in London in the home of the niece. He was then the head of the Royal society – the English Academy of science.


1)Newton’s discoveries: sense and significance

2) Harvey: discovering circulation

3) Christopher Wren and the development of architecture


1)Newton’s discoveries: sense and significance

And now we shall speak about the sense and significance of Newton’s discoveries and about the ways, they were done.


1 - The most significant achievement of Newton was the law of universal gravitation, which shows how things move in the world. Sometimes he is told to have discovered the law of universal gravitation. It wasn’t so. The other man formulated the law. Newton gave the mathematical proof of the law. It was important, but the more important fact was that since that time it has become possible to speak about nature with the help of mathematics. Before Newton scientists only described nature and its laws, they told like tale about it. Since Newton’s works the way to speak exactly has appeared, the way to count things. It was the turning point of the world science. The modern technology is the result of it. In brief, Newton used the language of mathematics for physics. So let’s speak about this turning point in more details.

There were three questions which preceded the discovery.

First two were put in antiquity. The first question was

- Why do point masses fall to the Earth? – The answer was also given in antiquity: because point masses attract each other

The Second question was

- Why does the Moon not fall to the Earth, but also does not go away?

There was no answer for that question

The third question had arisen shortly before Newton. The German scientist Iogann Kepler showed, that planets rotate around the Sun by the orbits in the form of ellipse. The question was - why? There also was no answer for that question

Many scientists thought about these riddles. At last some of them in the XVII century came to the same idea. There is a single force in the Universe, the main force, which moves all the objects: the sun, the moon, and the planets. The same force makes the objects fall on the ground. One of the scientists guessed the formula to calculate the force


m1 m2 Numerator

F = _______ Denominator



product of the two masses of objects devided into (reciprocal to)

the square distance between the two objects


The name of the scientist who suggested it was Robert Hooke. He was an outstanding scientist in different spheres, physicist first of all. More than 500 discoveries and inventions are attributed to him, among them inventing of microscope and discovering of the cell structure of plants. Hooke gave the formula of the gravitation law, which allowed to explain the ellipse rotation of planets, of the Moon, and generally movement. But Hooke, as far as the other scientists wasn’t able to prove the formula. It remained only a supposition.

The story of the proving of that formula, ant at the same time the story of the turning point of the science and the most famous scientific book, “The Principles” of Newton began in one of London coffee-houses in 1683.

Once three scientists, who were the members of the Royal society, were having a dinner after the meeting of the sociery. People speak about different things while having a dinner. They were discussing the movement of planets. Their names were Edmond Halley, Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren. You know about Hooke and Wren, I’ll tell about Halley.

He was also an outstanding scientist and made a lot in astronomy, mathematics, geography. But for the majority of people his name is connected with Halley comet. For many centuries people noticed the extremely bright commets. They were described in many ancient and medieval chronicles of different countries. For example such comet was seen on the day of the battle at Hastings when William became the Conqueror. He was Halley who guessed that it was the same comet. He compared the chronicles and suggested that the same comet returned and was seen in sky each 76 years. The observed the comet and predicted its coming back in more than 50 years. Many years after it came and it was both the proving of Halley’s prediction and the gravitation theory. The brightest comet of the sky got the name of Halley. It is considered that each person can see Halley’s comet at least once a life.

So Wren Halley and Hooke were having dinner.

And Wren offered 40 shillings for fun to the person who would prove the formula of gravitation with the help of mathematics. 40 shillings in those days were not a great sum, it was usual

wages for two weeks. Hooke told, that he had already found the proof, but does not wish to tell it not to deprive the others a pleasure to make the same.

As to Halley, he couldn’t stop thinking about the problem. Не went to Cambridge to discuss this theme with Newton. Newton told that he knew the proof of the law of gravitation and showed the ready book describing the system of the world. Halley read it and was delighted. But Newton has refused to publish his work. Newton was the genius, and some strange features of its behaviour cannot be explained.

It is necessary to tell about an exclusive role which has played Halley in the fate of Newton’s work. If not Halley it might not have been published. Halley managed to persuade Newton publishing the book. And he was Halley who gave money for the publication, in spite of he was not a rich person.

But the new problem arose. After two first volumes had appeared, the physicist Robert Hooke declared, that it was he who had informed Newton about the formula of the law. Hooke was offended, that Newton had not even mentioned his name.

Newton answered that it was an easy thing to invent formulas. But it was difficult to prove them with mathematics. He told that the third volume would be without Hooke’s name or it wouldn’t be at all. And once more Halley managed to persuade Newton. He mentioned the name of Hooke in the 3 volume and thus his main work was published.

So, the historians of the science say: the main merit of Newton wasn’t the concept of gravitation. It was the mathematical proof of the formula of the law. It wasn’t easy. On the way of proving the law, Newton put forward some other very important ideas. He created the new language of mathematics and coined such terms as weight and force

Today it seems to us, that they have always existed. But it wasn’t so, they were thought out by Newton. In order to prove the law of gravitation, Newton formulated the laws of movement. All modern physics and technics are based on them.

As for Hooke, modern historians of science recognize, that he could have informed Newton about the formula of the law and gave him a material for reflections.

Newton did not wish to recognize it. For 35 years Hooke was a head of the Royal society. After his death Newton became his successor. And his first step in a new role was the destruction of all the papers and portraits of Hooke. Now the Royal society has portraits of all its chairmen, except the first one, Robert Hooke.

Thus, Newton was the greatest scientist but he was not an ideal man.

Newton proved the law of gravitation for Solar system. It was not clear then, if it concerned all space. In the XX century the scientists proved that it was universal. Only after that the law received the name of universal.

There is a well-known legend about an apple which had fallen before Newton and made him discover the law of gravitation. The legend says, that once Newton saw a falling apple in the garden and thought: “The same force which made the apple to fall stretches up to the Moon. It exists not only on Earth, but in the whole solar system”.

Neither Newton, nor his contemporaries told this legend. For the first time it was told by French philosopher Voltaire. He visited England after Newton’s death, was impressed strongly by his works and told about them on the continent. Voltaire wrote, that she was the niece of Newton Katharine, who had told him about the apple. In Katharine’s family Newton lived for last twenty years. The scholars do not exclude, that Newton himself knew nothing about the apple, and this legend was invented by Voltaire .

2 - In the other field, in mathematics Newton created the methods of differential and integral calculus which were the new language of modern natural sciences

What was the significance of the method? In the nature almost all the processes do not go on directly. Planets rotate by ellipses, communication between phenomena too is described by curve. The new Method of Newton allowed to describe natural processes with the help of mathemetics.

At the same time the same ideas were put forward by outstanding German scientist Gottfried Leibniz. The dispute arose who was the first. Modern historians of a science came to the conclusion, that Newton had deduced the method some years earlier. But Leibniz published his work, and Newton didn’t publidh. So it was the work of Leibniz which had the practical value.

2 - In physiciss Newton also discovered, that white light consisted of the other colors. It made possible to understand the chemical compound of stars on distance

3 - Newton was also the inventor of the reflecting telescope or the telescope using mirrors. Such kind of telescopes are still remains the best in studying space.

Newton died in 1727. The inscription on his tomb in Westminster Abby called his mind “almost divine

Outstanding French scientist Lagranzh wrote: «Newton was the greatest genius from all ever existed, and the happiest one, for only once it is allowed to the person to discover the system of the world».


The main merit of Newton the mathematical proof of the law of gravitation. On the way of proving he created the methods of differential and integral calculation, which have become the new language of modern science. Halley could persuade Newton publishing the book. There were discussions for the authorship of the discoveries with Hooke and Leibniz. Voltaire was the first to tell the legend of the apple, and probably he had invented it

Категория: Лекции по истории Англии | Добавил: Senebty (10.02.2018)
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