# Who Discovered Gravity: 5 Inspiring Facts About Newton’s Brilliance

September 2, 2024

Who Discovered Gravity: Sir Isaac Newton, who discovered gravity in the 17th century, defined it as the force of attraction between any two masses. Newton’s groundbreaking discoveries significantly advanced our understanding of the universe, transforming physics, mathematics, and our view of the natural world. By providing a unified framework for describing the behavior of objects both on Earth and in space, Newton revolutionized our grasp of the cosmos and established a new foundation for scientific inquiry.

## About Isaac Newton: A Brief Biography

Let’s learn about Isaac Newton the person who discovered gravity, his early life, and his education.

### Who Discovered Gravity: Early Life and Education

The scientist was born on January 4, 1643, in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. When he was three years old, his mother, Hannah Ayscough Newton, remarried, and he was subsequently raised by his maternal grandmother.

Newton’s early schooling started at the King’s School in Grantham. He reportedly built mechanical gadgets like sundials when he was younger.

As a child, he was interested in science but was forced to work at family farms, and he had to quit schooling. Later, his family and friends persuaded Newton’s mother to allow him to return to school.

Newton joined Trinity College at the University of Cambridge in 1661 when he was 18. He originally pursued studies in law. Later, it soon became clear that he had a strong interest in science and mathematics.

### Newton’s Contributions to Mathematica and Physics

Let’s talk about Isaac Newton the person who discovered gravity contributions in the fields of mathematics and physics that are phenomenal and serve humanity.

1. Newton and the German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz independently created Calculus.

2. Newton’s generalised binomial theorem enables the expansion of statements of the type (a + b)n for any positive integer n.

3. Newton made substantial algebraic advances. The fields of algebra and combinatorics frequently employ this theorem.

4. The three laws of motion that Newton created are the foundation of classical mechanics.

His other findings include – Newton’s law of gravity, Kepler’s law, the Particle Theory of Light, and many more.

## Who Discovered Gravity | A Timeline of Discovery

Our understanding of gravity has evolved over centuries, from ancient explanations to sophisticated scientific theories. This timeline highlights some key milestones:

• 6th Century CE: John Philoponus, a Byzantine scholar, challenged the prevailing view of gravity as a “natural tendency” of objects to fall. He proposed the theory of impetus, suggesting a force initiates and sustains motion.
• 7th Century: Brahmagupta, an Indian astronomer, broke away from the idea of a falling object “seeking its natural place.” He described gravity as an inherent “attractive force” between celestial bodies.
• 14th Century: European philosophers like Jean Buridan and Albert of Saxony further developed the impetus theory, linking it to the mass and acceleration of falling objects. Their work laid the groundwork for future discoveries.
• 16th Century: The astronomical revolution spurred by Galileo Galilei and others shifted the view of gravity from Earth-centric to universal. Galileo also demonstrated that objects fall at the same rate regardless of their composition – a crucial piece in the gravity puzzle.
• 1687: Isaac Newton, building on the works of his predecessors, formulated the law of universal gravitation. This groundbreaking theory proposed the concept of a mutual attraction between all objects with mass, forever changing our understanding of gravity.
• 1798: Henry Cavendish’s experiment using a torsion balance provided the first accurate measurement of the gravitational constant, a crucial value for quantifying gravity’s strength. This experiment also allowed scientists to estimate the Earth’s density.

## How did Newton prove gravity?

While the famous image of an apple falling might be associated with Isaac Newton, his theory of gravity involved more than just a fruit. Here’s a glimpse into his thought process:

• The Cannonball Experiment (Thought Experiment): Imagine a powerful cannon firing a cannonball from the peak of a mountain. In the absence of gravity, the cannonball would simply travel in a straight line forever.
• Gravity’s Influence: However, if gravity exists, the path of the cannonball wouldn’t be a straight line. Instead, the force of gravity would pull the cannonball downward, causing its path to curve into an arc.
• Velocity Matters: The greater the initial velocity of the cannonball, the farther it would travel before gravity pulls it down. This suggested that the force of gravity weakens with increasing distance, a key aspect of his theory.

Beyond the Thought Experiment: Newton’s genius lay in recognizing that the same force pulling the cannonball downwards also governs the motion of the moon orbiting Earth. He proposed that gravity is a universal force, affecting objects both on Earth and in the heavens.

While the cannonball experiment wasn’t a real experiment but a thought experiment, it helped Newton solidify his ideas about the nature of gravity.

## Newton’s Law of Gravity

Do you know what influenced Isaac Newton’s formulation of the law of gravity? It was by a combination of preceding scientific concepts, theorists, and findings.

### Formulation of the Law and Its Significance

The law of universal gravitation, first presented by Isaac Newton in his “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” (1687), mathematically expresses the gravitational force between two masses. This foundational concept in physics is of great importance. Here is the mathematical formulation of the law:

F= G*m1*m2/r.r

Where,

F= Force of gravity between two masses

G= Gravitational constant

m1 and m2= masses of the two objects

r = the separation between the two masses’ centres

#### Significance of the law

1. Objects on Earth and celestial bodies in space are explained by Newton’s law of gravity. This demonstrated that a single fundamental force governed both terrestrial and celestial mechanics.

2. Newton’s law enabled scientists to make astoundingly accurate predictions about planets, moons, and other celestial bodies.

3. Laws of gravity illustrate the scientific process by combining observations, models, and hypothesis tests. Newton established a benchmark for scientific investigation with his emphasis on logic based on facts.

These findings and contributions by Newton transformed how we perceive the physical world.

## Newton’s 3 Laws

While experiencing personal struggles in 1678, Isaac Newton retreated from scientific exchange but refocused his brilliance on mechanics and astronomy. This period of introspection led to a breakthrough – the formulation of his three laws of motion, published in his masterpiece, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687).

These three laws became the foundation of classical mechanics, governing the relationship between objects, forces, and resulting motion:

• First Law: Law of Inertia: An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion continues moving at a constant velocity (speed and direction) unless acted upon by an external force.
• Second Law: Law of Acceleration: The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force acting on it (the sum of all forces) and inversely proportional to its mass. This can be expressed by the equation F = ma (force equals mass times acceleration).
• Third Law: Law of Action-Reaction: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, when one object exerts a force on another, the second object simultaneously exerts a force back on the first. The forces are equal in magnitude but opposite in direction.

These elegant laws not only explained everyday observations of motion but also allowed Newton to make groundbreaking calculations. He used them to determine planetary masses, Earth’s shape, and the force behind tides caused by the Sun and Moon’s gravity.

## Impact and Implications of Isaac Newton’s Inventions

Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation greatly influenced science, mathematics, and our understanding of the natural world. Their acceptance and reception were vital in determining how science and human understanding developed.

1. Newton proposed the theory of motion, forces, and the behaviour of objects on Earth and in the universe. Newton provided a comprehensive framework for understanding motion, forces, and motion. It revolutionized science.

2. Astronomy was revolutionized by the law of gravity’s ability to accurately predict the motions of planets, moons, and other celestial bodies.

### Validation and Reception of the Law

1. Publication of Principia – Newton’s law of universal gravitation was published in the Principia in 1687. Although the “Principia” attracted the scientific world’s attention at first, its complexity and difficulties in terms of mathematics prevented it from being generally accepted right once.

2. Peer Reception – Newton faced several criticisms from his peers. Mostly, people who had different ideologies and research opposed his.

3. Acceptance and legacy – As the precision of the law of gravity in predicting celestial motions became clear throughout time; it attained general acceptance. It ultimately developed into a fundamental idea in physics and celestial mechanics, influencing the development of science for millennia.

### Transformation of Astronomy, Physics, and Our Understanding of the Universe

Isaac Newton’s inventions revolutionized physics, astronomy, and our universe understanding. His laws of motion and universal gravitation gave rise to a mechanical worldview. This offered a unifying framework for understanding both celestial and earthly mechanics.

They also introduced a mathematical method for describing natural occurrences. These discoveries have had a long-lasting influence on the advancement of science and our understanding of the universe.

## The Apple and the Falling Moon: Myths and Reality

You must have heard of the Falling Apple and Falling Moon story. Isaac Newton discovered the law of universal gravitation, which is associated with these epic stories. These stories are nothing but myths. They do not represent the actual scientific process behind Newton’s ground-breaking work.

The legendary Apple story: Separating Fact from Fiction

Let’s know what are the myths and facts about the legendary apple and moon story.

### Myths

According to the story, the apple fell on the head of Newton, while he was sitting under the apple tree. This led him to formulate Newton’s law of universal gravitation. But, there is no concrete evidence historically to prove this fact!

Newton’s law of gravitation was not used to explain the moon’s motion, contrary to the idea.

### Reality

Newton developed and formulated the law of universal gravitation through research. He also combined observations of falling objects with astronomical data.

As a result, they constructed a comprehensive theory that explained the gravitational attraction between all masses. The moon’s orbit around the Earth could theoretically be explained through Newton’s law.

### Insights from the Principia Mathematica

Newton released the book “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” in 1687. Here, he explained his laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation methodically and mathematically. This book deeply explains cardinal numbers, real numbers, ordinal numbers, and other set theories.

Principia Mathematica focused mainly on describing facts rather than focusing on idealism and philosophy by the Anglo-American community during the nineteenth century.

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## Modern Applications of Newton’s Law of Gravity

Newton’s law of gravity has great importance in everyday life. Let us find out what are the modern applications of the law.

Planetary motion and space exploration

1. The law of gravity explains how gravity affects us and our walking on the Earth. It maintains us on Earth so we may live here instead of flying through the air and space.

2. It illustrates how the moon revolves around the EarthEarth. The sun’s rotational path around the planets is the cause of Earth’s tides.

3. Climate modelers employ Newton’s law. It determines the relationship between air pressure and altitude and the effects of gravity on gases.

4. Newton’s law is used to calculate the masses of planets and moons. Observing the motion of their moons or other associated entities accomplishes this.

5. Space telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope utilize reaction wheels. This adjusts their orientation by Newton’s third law.

6. Earth’s gravitational field helps determine natural disasters as well. This is possible by analyzing the variation in the Earth’s gravitational field.

### Satellite orbits and space travel

1. Space trajectories are calculated using it. Other trajectories like – satellites, probes, and spacecraft are also calculated. This helps to execute missions to other planets and explore the universe more.

2. Newton’s law also enables us to know satellite positions. This information is important for establishing better communication. It also helps in navigation systems like GPS.

3. Geoid determination is aided by knowledge of the gravitational field of the Earth. This aids in mapping, measuring heights, and keeping track of the Earth’s form changes.

4. Gravitational force is useful in engineering spacecraft designs. It will be able to resist the strains of launch and orbit. It is also useful for organizing the orbital docking processes of spacecraft.

These examples show how Newton’s law of gravity is important in various scientific fields.

## Who discovered gravity before Newton?

While Isaac Newton is credited with formulating the law of universal gravitation, there were earlier attempts to understand Who discovered gravity.

• Brahmagupta and the Attractive Force: One such example is Brahmagupta-II, an Indian mathematician and astronomer (598-668 CE). Around 1,000 years before Newton, he described and discovered gravity as an attractive force, similar to how water flows. However, it’s important to note that Brahmagupta’s concept lacked the mathematical framework and experimentation that define modern scientific theories.

### The Importance of Scientific Development in context of Who discovered gravity:

While these early ideas are interesting, they weren’t as developed or influential as Newton’s work. Newton’s theory provided a mathematical explanation for gravity, demonstrating its universality and how it affects objects of all sizes. This paved the way for further scientific advancements in our understanding of motion and celestial mechanics.

## Conclusion

Who Discovered Gravity: In this blog, we explored Isaac Newton, the groundbreaking scientist who discovered gravity. His revolutionary contributions to science, mathematics, and astronomy transformed our understanding of the universe. Gravity, which is essential for our daily lives and crucial in determining planetary trajectories, also enables space exploration, communication advancements, and understanding natural disasters. Newton’s laws of gravity significantly accelerated technological development and expanded our knowledge of the cosmos.

### Q1. What did Isaac Newton add to the understanding of gravity?

Ans. He discovered gravity, which completely changed how we perceive the world. He came up with three laws of motion to describe the relationship between an object’s motion and the forces operating on it.

### Q2. When did Newton publish his findings on gravity?

Ans. In 1687, Newton’s book “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” presented his gravity research.

### Q3. Is the gravity law of Newton still valid today?

Ans. Yes, many circumstances still use and apply to Newton’s law of gravity. Its utility is found in situations where high precision or extremely strong gravitational effects are not required. It serves as a useful approximation for many computations in engineering, astronomy, and space exploration.

### Q4. What is the modern application of the law of gravity?

Ans. Using Newton’s law, the masses of planets and moons are calculated by observing the motion of their moons or related entities.

### Q5. Why did the apple fall on Newton?

Ans. Newton didn’t actually have an apple fall on his head, but observing apples fall to the ground prompted him to think about gravity, leading to his law of universal gravitation.

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