Saturday, October 26, 2013

History of Math: Isaac Newton and the Schoolyard Bully

When talking about great mathematicians of the past, many will rank the top three as Archimedes, Gauss, and Newton. I have posted stories about the others, but none about Isaac Newton. So, I think now is a good time.

Isaac Newton
Newton is best known for his work in physics, but he also made huge contributions to calculus, algebra, geometry, and infinite series. Many mathematicians expand their expertise to different diverse branches of math, but Newton stuck to the things that applied the most to his physics and are currently ruling the American school system.

Let me tell you an interesting story about Newton. When he was a young student, he was very shy and not at all the genius that he is known as today. One day at recess, a bully came up to him and punched him in the stomach. Newton chose to fight back, and proceeded to shove his face in the mud. All of his classmates, who did not like this kid, cheered him on as he proved his superiority to the bully.

After this incident, he decided that physical prestige wasn't enough for him, and he wanted mental prestige as well. So, he started working much harder at his schoolwork, and soon after became top of the class, proving to everyone that he was smarter than the bully as well. This motivation could have been what turned him into one of the best scientists and mathematicians of all time.

I think this story shows that anyone who has drive and dedication can become a genius, and it also is a story themed around the negativity of bullying. I also like it because it is an interesting aspect about a mathematician's childhood, which help people get to know who is behind what they are learning and practicing.

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