Mid Life

As a professor, Newton was exempted from tutoring but required to deliver an annual course of lectures. He chose to deliver his work on optics as his initial topic. Part of Newton’s study of optics was aided with the use of a reflecting telescope that he designed and constructed in 1668—his first major public scientific achievement.

This invention helped prove his theory of light and color.

The Royal Society asked for a demonstration of his reflecting telescope in 1671, and the organization’s interest encouraged Newton to publish his notes on light, optics and color in 1672; these notes were later published as part of Newton’s Opticks: Or, A treatise of the Reflections, Refractions, Inflections and Colours of Light.

However, not everyone at the Royal Academy was enthusiastic about Newton’s discoveries in optics. Among the dissenters was Robert Hooke, one of the original members of the Royal Academy and a scientist who was accomplished in a number of areas, including mechanics and optics. In his paper, Newton theorized that white light was a composite of all colors of the spectrum, and that light was composed of particles. Publishing ‘Principia’

In 1687, after 18 months of intense and effectively nonstop work, Newton published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). Said to be the single most influential book on physics and possibly all of science, it is most often known asPrincipia and contains information on nearly all of the essential concepts of physics, except energy.

The work offers an exact quantitative description of bodies in motion in three basic laws:

1) A stationary body will stay stationary unless an external force is applied to it; 2) Force is equal to mass times acceleration, and a change in motion is proportional to the force applied; and 3) For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. These three laws helped explain not only elliptical planetary orbits but nearly every other motion in the universe: how the planets are kept in orbit by the pull of the sun’s gravity; how the moon revolves around Earth and the moons of Jupiter revolve around it; and how comets revolve in elliptical orbits around the sun.The laws also allowed Newton to calculate the mass of each planet, calculate the flattening of the Earth at the poles and the bulge at the equator, and how the gravitational pull of the sun and moon create the Earth’s tides.
In Newton’s account, gravity kept the universe balanced, made it work, and brought heaven and earth together in one great equation.In 1696, Newton was able to attain the governmental position he had long sought: warden of the Mint; after acquiring this new title, he permanently moved to London and lived with his niece, Catherine Barton. She was the mistress of Lord Halifax, a high-ranking government official who was instrumental in having Newton promoted, in 1699, to master of the Mint—a position that he would hold until his death.

Not wanting it to be considered a mere honorary position…

…Newton approached the job in earnest, reforming the currency and severely punishing counterfeiters. As master of the Mint, Newton moved the British currency, the pound sterling, from the silver to the gold standard.
In 1703, Newton was elected president of the Royal Society upon Robert Hooke’s death. In 1705, he was knighted by Queen Anne of England. By this point in his life, Newton’s career in science and discovery had given way to a career of political power and influence.Newton never seemed to understand the notion of science as a cooperative venture, and his ambition and fierce defense of his own discoveries continued to lead him from one conflict to another with other scientists. By most accounts, Newton’s tenure at the society was tyrannical and autocratic; he was able to control the lives and careers of younger scientists with absolute power.
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