Archive for February 9th, 2012

February 9, 2012

Yes, Newton was the greatest scientist ever

by Neil Rickert

According to Larry Moran, Darwin was the greatest scientist ever.

Most of us know that Charles Darwin was the greatest scientist who ever lived but one still finds the occasional misguided physicist/mathematician who thinks that the honor should go to an eighteenth century Englishman named Isaac Newton (1642-1727).

I agree that Darwin was a great scientist.  But I will stick with Newton as the greatest ever, even though Larry thinks that misguided.

Yes, Newton had some weird religious ideas.  And parts of Newton’s science have since been displaced by relativity and QM.  But it is not Newton’s laws themselves that make him great.  Rather, it is his involvement in the transformation of how we do science.

For sure, that transformation was the work of a number of people.  Copernicus was important, and Galileo was very important.  Others, such as Boyle and Hooke were important.  But the greatest credit must go to Newton, for why science today is so different from what it was at, say, the time of Aristotle.

Tags: ,