Event Detail

Event Type: 
Lonseth Lecture
Date/Time: 
Tuesday, May 5, 1998 - 05:00

Speaker Info

Institution: 
Oregon State University
Abstract: 

Isaac Newton developed calculus and used it to derive universal laws of motion and gravitation that apply not only on Earth but also to the planets and stars. His laws justify and explain the pervious discoveries of Galileo and Kepler. Newton's laws, particularly force equals mass times acceleration and the universal law of gravitation, are introduced in calculus classes, but usually there isn't enough time to deal adequately with their all-important consequences. The result is that students do not fully appreciate the extraordinary magnitude of Newton's accomplishments. In this lecture we shall discuss three topics that stem directly from Newton's laws: 1. Escape velocity of a projectile launched from the Earth; 2. The derivation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion; 3. The representation of solid bodies as point masses. Even today some of the details of Newton's analysis have to be sketched in order to make the arguments reasonably accessible to calculus students.