Cave of Lascaux

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Isaac Newton was born in 1642 in England. His father had died two months before his birth. When Isaac was three his mother remarried, and Isaac remained with his grandmother. He was not interested in the family farm, so he was sent to Cambridge University to study.

Isaac was born just a short time after the death of Galileo, one of the greatest scientists of all time. Galileo had proved that the planets revolve around the sun, not the earth as people thought at the time. Isaac Newton was very interested in the discoveries of Galileo and others. Isaac thought the universe worked like a machine and that a few simple laws governed it. Like Galileo, he realized that mathematics was the way to explain and prove those laws. Isaac Newton was one of the worlds great scientists because he took his ideas, and the ideas of earlier scientists, and combined them into a unified picture of how the universe works.

Isaac explained the workings of the universe through mathematics. He formulated laws of motion and gravitation. These laws are math formulas that explain how objects move when a force acts on them. Isaac published his most famous book, Principia, in 1687 while he was a mathematics professor at Trinity College, Cambridge. In the Principia, Isaac explained three basic laws that govern the way objects move. He then described his idea, or theory, about gravity. Gravity is the force that causes things to fall down. If a pencil falls off a desk, it will land on the floor, not the ceiling. In his book Isaac also used his laws to show that the planets revolve around the suns in orbits that are oval, not round.

Isaac Newton used three laws to explain the way objects move. They are often call Newtons Laws. The First Law states that an object that is not being pushed or pulled by some force will stay still, or will keep moving in a straight line at a steady speed. It is easy to understand that a bike will not move unless something pushes or pulls it. It is harder to understand that an object will continue to move without help. Think of the bike again. If someone is riding a bike and jumps off before the bike is stopped what happens? The bike continues on until it falls over. The tendency of an object to remain still, or keep moving in a straight line at a steady speed is called inertia.

The Second Law {force = mass x acceleration; f = ma} explains how a force acts on an object. An object accelerates in the direction the force is moving it. If someone gets on a bike and pushes the pedals forward the bike will begin to move. If someone gives the bike a push from behind, the bike will speed up. If the rider pushes back on the pedals the bike will slow down. If the rider turns the handlebars, the bike will change direction.

The Third Law states that if an object is pushed or pulled, it will push or pull equally in the opposite direction. If someone lifts a heavy box, they use force to push it up. The box is heavy because it is producing an equal force downward on the lifters arms. The weight