(December 27, 1571 – November 15, 1630)

This Renaissance-era mathematician achieved many “firsts” in astronomy, mechanics, waves, optics and numerical analysis. He is most revered for using complex mathematics to unmask the planetary dynamics of our solar system. Like Nicolaus Copernicus whom he admired, Johannes Kepler was ahead of his time. He was the first scientist who accurately explained the mechanisms of tidal waves. Both Galileo Galilei and René Descartes failed to embrace his works earlier than they should, probably because they were too advanced for their era. Kepler was also the first person to suggest that the planets in our solar system circle around the sun in elliptical orbits. Thus, he quashed a long series of incorrect theories which stretched back to ancient Greece. But even before he gained fame, Tyco Brahe saw in him the future of astronomy. Decades later, Kepler’s legacies in geometry, optics and astronomy would fascinate, inspire and illuminate the mind of a young Cambridge student, named Isaac Newton. It was Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion that inspired Newton to research further and come-up with his own Laws of Motion, as well as that of Universal Gravitation. And in Numerical Analysis, that formula which English speakers call “Simpson’s Rule”, is known in German as “Keplersche Fassregel”. This is because Johannes Kepler developed it a century before Thomas Simpson was born.

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