On the bus to school this morning I was talking to a lady who was reading a biography of Newton. Since a lot of what he did is now taught in Kindergarten, it is hard to recognize just what a huge difference he meant to modern science. It is also remarkable given the total chaos of the times he lived in. Most of is work was during times of civil war and revolution and counter revolution. Not everything he did was wonderful. He is also responsible for Calculus. But it was Newton who did the math that proved Copernicus and Brahae. The guy was a bit of a goof and a dreamer. But he also did a lot of real practical work, such as the reform of the mint after the restoration.

I think it takes a bit of a goof, certainly a dreamer, to make that level of contribution in the first place. Not a big fan of the calculus, though. The day he dreamt that up he should have laid off the Mexican.

Without Calculus he'd have never verified Kepler's Laws of Planetary motion. That whole line of argument is a Vector Calculus problem. It really is quite elegant. Newton went back and provided a more cumbersome geometric argument for all of his results after the fact due to the concern that the Principia was going to be controversal enough. There's an argument though that even if Newton hadn't come up with Calculus, someone would have eventually. Liebniz often gets joint credit for coming up with Calculus independently (which some people debate but...) and standardizing the notation we use today. Wallis and Barrow were certainly close to the development (Newton learned Mathematics from Barrow). Archimdede's The Method was lost for a long long while, but once discovered it uses a lot of reasoning reminiscent of Calculus. What's amazing is that even after a lot of Newton's laws of physics have had to be rewritten in light of Relativitiy, the early Calculus work by Newton, Liebniz, the Bernoullis, etc has stood the test of time. There was some need to clean up the rigor and that was done by Cauchy and others, but it goes to show that Calculus may have been the even more important discovery by Newton.