A Christmas present to the world, mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was born on this day in Lincolnshire, England. Considered one of the greatest scientists in history, he delved into the mysteries of calculus, the theories of colors, and the laws of motion and gravity.
By the age of 24, he designed a way to draw tangents to curves and calculate the area of curves.
Calculus was born.
"I keep the subject constantly before me and wait," he said, "till the first dawning's open slowly, by little and little, into a full and clear light."
With full and clear light, Newton built on established laws to make his new discoveries. Inspired by astronomer Edmund Halley, Newton wrote the one-volume The Principia (1687) which established modern dynamics by formulating his three laws of motion. To this discovery Newton added Johannes Kepler's orbital motion laws to derive the laws of universal gravitation: All matter attracts all other matter with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
Just 54 years after Galileo recanted his claim that the earth moved, Newton provided mankind with an accurate working model of the universe to create modern physics. Newton's brilliance led directly to Einstein's 20th Century concepts of space and time.
"If I have seen further," Newton once explained, "it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
There is magic in bold guesses.