Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
In addition to his theories on the structure of the Universe, Kepler made important headway into the field of optics, his publication Stereometrica Doliorum formed the basis of integral calculus, and he also made important advances in geometry.
In addition to these major breakthroughs, Kepler also explained how the tides were influenced by the Moon, determined the exact year of Christ’s birth, derived Logarithms based on mathematics, with no reference to John Napier’s work, and is responsible for finding the three laws of planetary motion.
Kepler’s first Law: The orbit of a planet about the Sun is an ellipse with the Sun’s center of mass at one focus.
Kepler’s second Law: A line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal intervals of time.
Kepler’s third Law: The squares of the periods of the planets are proportional to the cubes of their semi-major axes.
You may also be surprised to learn that Kepler was a very religious man, who found a way to credit God for each and every discovery he would make, not to mention his own life and career paths. Kepler had originally planned on becoming a priest, but was drawn into the world of science. Furthermore, he was of the Lutheran faith, which caused him many problems throughout his life, since Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire until its dissolution 1806. Always being subjected to persecution by the Catholics, Kepler had to relocate several times due to pressure from the Church, yet he would not convert. Also, mathematicians were not in great demand at the time, and Kepler did not have very much money to support his family. He lived in poverty, and died in poverty, but one thing is for certain, he was very prolific, and his work did not die with him.
Like so many geniuses before and after him, Kepler has never known fame or fortune, but without his perseverance and strength of character, not to mention his many important discoveries, who knows how long it would have taken for us to even begin understanding the true structure of the universe.