Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton

Setting aside the controversy this year with wishing Sir Isaac Newton a Happy Birthday on Christmas, there were two thoughts in different directions: the calendar and do most people even know for what Sir Newton is noted.

Happy Birthday on December 25th looked like January 4th for Sir Isaac in his life time which started in 1642. With a healthy long life, the astronomer lived to be 84 years old, expiring March 20 1726. Interesting thing about the calendar between 1642 and 1726, it didn’t change.

While the calendars around the world were changing with the Catholic church adopting the Gregorian calendar in 1582, England, Wales and the Colonies were not participating until the New Style Act in 1750. American historians will point out to eager students that the change in calendar is the reason for President’s Day being sometime in February rather than on Washington’s Birthday because we changed the date during his life time. Imagine thinking you know your date of birth only to find out you’ve been wrong by about a week: Poor George.

More importantly, Sir Isaac Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation. Because of his work, we understand planetary motion, trajectories of comets and other fun astronomical facts. Newton removed the last doubts about the center of our system being the Sun. Believe it or not, there were nay-sayers to that fact for a several centuries.
Sir Newton was a professor of mathematics, biblical chronology and alchemy, a combination not likely in our day but quite the scholar in his time.

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