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The Life and Times of Sir Isaac Newton

If you have been reading this column for a while, you know that it is mostly fluff with few redeeming social or literary values. Today, however, I am going to venture into the realm of the scientific and discuss the very important contributions of Sir Isaac Newton. Newton gave us laws. Particularly, he gave us three laws of motion, usually designated as 1, 2, and 3. He also gave us the Law of Universal Gravitation, which is commonly called the law of universal gravitation. These laws are very important to all of us because attempts to violate any of them are fraught with dire consequences.

Law # 1 is frequently referred to as the law of inertia. It states, A body at rest remains at rest unless acted on by some force and a body in motion tends to remain in motion at a constant velocity in a straight line unless acted on by some force. The truth is it didn’t really read that way because Newton wrote in Latin, which was the language of science in the 1600’s. It really said, Plurabus speculatum es ibi fuestis frankis corpus restorium hic haec hoc hujus, hujis, huyoujis. In simple English it means stuff stays where you put it and things that are moving keep going until something stops them. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the point

1. If you put a tall delicate vase on the coffee table just before you go to bed, you should expect it to be on the table when you go back for it in the morning. Right? Wrong, because your two German Shepherd Dogs with long lethal tails will have knocked it off while chasing the cat during the night.
2. If Lou Groza kicks a football from the 40 yard line in an attempt to make a game-winning field goal, the ball will continue in a straight line at a constant speed unless acted on by some external force such as Tommy Nobis’ big fat hand, allowing Atlanta to beat Cleveland, my favorite team at the time.
3. If you are driving down a Texas interstate at 87 miles per hour many male pickup truck drivers will probably pass you with their ball caps on backwards. What does this have to do with Newton’s first law of motion? Nothing—it’s just an observation. However, if while you are driving down the road at 87 miles per hour and your car should decide to stop very suddenly as in hitting some of those big concrete things set up in the middle of the road between Huntsville and Houston, you personally will continue in a straight line at 87 miles per hour unless acted on by some external force such as a seatbelt or a windshield.

Law #2 is often called the law of force and acceleration. It states, When a force acts on a body, it produces acceleration which is proportional to the magnitude of the force. In Latin the law is Opus magnus thetorium est forces acceleratus e pluribus Unum reststoppus.

This law is a good bit more abstract than the first. Basically what it means is the harder you kick the football the farther it will go. You need to add a word or two to your basic vocabulary to better understand the law. Dyne is a unit of force used in all calculations sbased on law 2. This might be used in a sentence as follows. He can’t kick the football worth a dyne. Or that dyne kicker ain’t worth a waschbecken. (Waschbecken is a German word that defies translation, so you should learn it in German.)

Law # 3 is usually called law # 3. It reads, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Or, Wei schade, dass wir nicht unsere Badeschen mithaben. Wir hatten im Sand spielen und nachher konnen. The application of this law is pretty simple. Suppose the President of Sam Houston State University is fishing from a small boat on a pretty big lake. Suppose he comes back to dock at the end of the day. Suppose the Prez puts one foot on the dock and gives a big push with the other foot to propel himself up onto the dock. Newton’s third law tells us that the boat will move backward (toward the main part of the lake) with a force equal to the force of the push. At this point the Prez will likely fall into the water. That’s the law. If you are in the employ of Sam Houston State University, and if you are standing on the dock at the time, you should try very hard to find this obedience to Newton’s law not amusing. Jobs are hard to come by right now. In fact, if you lost your job at SHSU you might actually have to go to work for a living.

Another application of this law makes your shotgun kick. If you have ever spent the day dove hunting and shot up about 6 boxes of shells, you will probably want to participate in the major movement to get this law repealed. Your best bet would be to write to the Alabama State Legislature and ask them to put the bill on the calendar to be debated along with the debate to change the value of pi from 3.1416 to just 3 because it is easier to remember.