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Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor, philosopher and alchemist. A man of profound genius, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists in history.
Among his scientific accomplishments, Newton wrote the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, wherein he described universal gravitation and, via his laws of motion, laid the groundwork for classical mechanics.
In 1679, Newton started to work on mechanics, i.e., gravitation and its effect on the orbits of planets, with reference to Kepler's laws of motion, and consulting with Hooke and Flamsteed on the subject. He published his results in De Motu Corporum (1684). This contained the beginnings of the laws of motion that would inform the Principia.
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (now known as the Principia) was published 5 July 1687) with encouragement and financial help from Edmond Halley. In this work Newton stated the three universal laws of motion that were not to be improved upon for more than two hundred years. He used the Latin word gravitas (weight) for the force that would become known as gravity, and defined the law of universal gravitation. In the same work he presented the first analytical determination, based on Boyle's Law, of the speed of sound in air.
It was perhaps the force of the Principia, which explained so many different things about the natural world with such economy, that caused this method to become synonymous with physics, even as it is practised almost three and a half centuries af ...
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