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Isaac Newton and Einstein, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 549

Essay

Isaac Newton provided some of the most prominent contributions to classical physics, which generally refers to the field before major developments in the 1900s such as relativity and quantum mechanics. The physicist produced three laws of motion based on objects that are visible with the naked eye. The first rule, often called the law of inertia, describes the observation that an object measured from a inertial frame of reference will maintain speed and direction of motion unless it is acted upon by a non-balanced force like friction. The second law states that speed and direction of a mass can be changed by a force, which is described as an alteration in momentum. If the force is gravity, which is forever linked with Newton thanks to the falling apple legend, then only the speed of the object will be altered. The third law of classical physics provided by the scholar is widely known as the law of equal and opposite reaction. This principle is based on the observation that forces come in polar pairs, like the strength of gravity being paired with the momentum change in falling objects. Newton’s laws provided the framework needed for many significant advancements in classical physics.

Einstein later expanded upon the work of Newton and others in the early 1900s with his theory of special relativity. This approach to physics focuses on the importance of a consistent inertial reference frame in assuring that the laws remain constant throughout all situations. The reference requirement is the special aspect of this theory that distinguishes it from other postulations. Special relativity revealed that, while reference changes can alter the immediate perception of physical laws, transformations can be applied that reveal these differences as effects of perspective, rather than actual variations in the laws of physics. This reconciliation also allowed Einstein to demonstrate that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, revealing another physical principle. These discoveries would not have been possible without the foundation laid by classical theories.

Following the success of special relativity, Einstein and other influential physicists expanded the principles to account for general observations that can be made outside of an inertial reference frame. Gravity was shown to bend light using techniques like Edington’s eclipse experiment, accounting for apparent disparities in principles governing objects in an accelerating frame of reference. These findings also laid the groundwork for the investigation of light as a particle, which in turn led to momentous events like the definition of space-time as a tangible substance, Einstein’s discovery of the iconic mass to energy equation, and the birth of quantum physics.

Isaac Newton was a mathematician as well as a physicist, and he provided an extensive amount of information regarding the geometry of gravitational forces that would later be used by those studying general relativity to deduce the relationship between space-time and matter. Their calculations showed that mass actually bends space time, creating curvature throughout the universe that manifests as gravitational forces on objects. These cosmological implications could not have been discovered without the tools developed from studying previous classical theories. For example, the speed of light is instrumental in measuring cosmic distances, but we would not have been able to take advantage of this opportunity without the understanding of gravity and light interactions that arose from Newtonian and relativistic findings.

 

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