Marshal Erwin Rommel

By on December 3, 2015 6 Comments

Erwin Rommel was born on October 15th 1891 in Germany. During World War I, Rommel fought in France, where he gained tactical experience and respect on the battlefield. After the war, between 1935 and 1945, the Nazi regime ruled over Germany with many ex-soldiers and youths siding with their power. One of the ex World War I soldiers was Erwin Rommel. After fighting in World War I, Rommel became a military instructor until in 1938 he joined Hitler’s forces as a General. After the invasion of Poland, Rommel moved on to commanding the 7th Panzer Division in France, the Nazi invasion of Egypt and the armies in the Netherlands. Rommel’s involvement in the army, witnessing the battles Germany had lost, allowed him to witness that Germany no longer had the upper hand in battle. This doubt lead Rommel into writing his letter to Hitler.

In the letter, Rommel talks about the depletion of the supplies and lack of experience of the new soldiers; the downfall of transportation due to air raids and the Allies more advanced air travel; and the casualties in Normandy as well as the weakening front in France. Rommel’s concern for the German troops showed that many were losing hope of the Wehrmacht’s ability to win the war. Rommel wrote his letter on July 15, 1944, just a few days before the assassinated attempted against Hitler. Rommel’s superior Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge gave Hitler the letter, making both Hitler and Kluge suspicious of Rommel’s actions. Rommel’s document was kept preserved in case Rommel was going to agree to go trial. By the time the war ended the letter was sent to Bundesarchiv Militararchiv (German Military Archives) where Peter Hoffmann, the editor of Behind Valkyrie document book, found the letter and added it to his book3. Although Rommel never joined Operation Valkyrie he still held doubt about the Wehrmacht, giving enough suspicion that Rommel might later become a threat.
Unfortunately, after the letter was written, Rommel was injured by a fighter plane in battle, two days after writing the letter. Then on July 20, 1944 Operation Valkyrie occurred in Hitler’s layout the Wolf’s Lair, located in East Prussia. After the deed all of the immediate conspirators were shot that same night; after, anyone who was remotely involved in the plots was also arrested, put to trial, and executed. In October, SS guards came to Rommel’s house, while he was still recovering from his injuries and told him he had a choice of whether to commit suicide and be honored as a war hero or to be put on trial and lose his honor. Rommel died on October 14, 1944, deciding to take his life in order to protect his family, and was decorated at his funeral as a war hero.

I found this video on a Youtube channel which was supported by a company called Critical Past, a historical channel that retains and sells vintage videos on DVDs. This footage was preserved in an archive and then transferred in order to be seen on modern screens. In the footage you see Rommel’s casket with military officials, his wife and son in the church; citizens outside the church paying respects to him; and army soldiers saluting to him as his casket is taken away. Rommel was very much respected in the end of his days, at least to the publics eyes. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s right wing and propaganda minister, was the head of all media while Hitler was in power. Though the filmmaker is unknown, Rommel’s funeral was filmed for Die Deutsche Wochenschau, the German newsreels. In the newsreel, they told the population that Rommel died from his injuries and was fully honored in Nazi attire.

Around the time Rommel’s funeral and the July 20th plot, Italy announced its surrender in October 1943, Monte Cassino monastery fell to the Allies in January 1944, and Normandy was invaded on D-Day showed that the Axis powers were slowly losing the war. The July 20th plot, was taken place near the end of the war and the attempt on Hitler’s life would cause more fear and doubt to soldiers, generals, and citizens. Thought Goebbels did not want to advertise that. Rommel’s suspensions were suppressed6. The huge assassination attempt just occurred only a few months ago and Germany was trying to cover everything to make sure everything looks fine.

During World War two, it was bad to publish failures happening in the war. In other newsreels and war films, the filmmakers tried to show the support and prosperity of the German people. However, many who were involved in resistance groups was a part of the older generation, citizens who were over the age of 18 before 1935. All of the top conspirators of Operation Valkyrie were in their 40s to 60s. Children born during the Nazi regime grew into the Nazi ideology verses adults who grew up in the earlier 20th century, experiencing different ideology. Though groups like the White Rose, a non violent resistance group created of Munich University students, whose members were around the ages of 15 to 17 around 1935, by that age kids have already created a sense of identity and morals. It is much easier to influence young children than adults. After the defeat of World War I along with the poor economy and debit, Hitler’s influence and encouragement helped Germany rally towards moving towards a better future. Ex-soldiers like Rommel at the time, realized the war was no longer in their favor and were motivated to prevent Hitler from continuing the war effort. To the resistance group, they knew deep down that what they were doing was wrong and they new that Hitler had to serve justice for leading Germany astray.

AENT UK. “Erwin Rommel.” March 10, 2015. Accessed November 15, 2015. http://www.history.co.uk/biographies/erwin-rommel.
A+E Network. “Joseph Goebbels – World War II.” history.com (HISTORY.com) 2010,. Accessed November 15, 2015. http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/joseph-goebbels.
Bhalla, Shalu. Quotes of Ghandi. n.p.: UBS Publishers, 1995.
Hoffman, Peter, ed. Jantzen, Kyle, Kenneth Reynolds, Katharine Sams, and Andrew Szanajda, trans. Behind Valkyrie: German Resistance to Hitler: Documents. Montreal, Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011.
Stock Footage – Nazi Leaders in the Funeral of General Erwin Rommel in Herrlingen, Germany. 1944. Posted November 24, 2015. http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675030671_General-Erwin-Rommel_wreath-over-coffin_Field-Marshall-Karl-Von-Rundstedt.
Trueman, C N. “Erwin Rommel.” April 20, 2015. Accessed November 24, 2015. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/military-commanders-of-world-war-two/erwin-rommel/.
Trueman, C N. “The July Bomb Plot.” May 18, 2015. Accessed May 18 2015.

The Kristallnacht happened due to a chain of events that eventfully lead to the night of broken glass. Ernst Vom Rath was a SA for the Nazi Party located in Paris as an ambassador. On November 7, 1938 a 17-year-old Jewish boy named Herschel Grynszpan killed Rath for revenge for his Polish family, who were kicked out of Poland, forced to live in a refugee camp in between Poland and Germany, and were deemed non-citizen of the Polish state. After Rath died two days after being shot, on November 9, Joseph Goebbels said in his speech, for the anniversary of the Nazi coup ‘de ‘tat in 1923, that no one would be charged if any property was damaged. These two events gave the German population an excuse to destroy Jewish stores and property. Europe was already had deep roots of Anti-Semitism

Nuremberg Laws

By on December 3, 2015 2 Comments

Before “The Final Solution,” Hitler’s final attempt to rid the Jews from Europe, the Nazi party tried several different solutions to suppress and get rid of the Jew in Europe. One of the first plans were the Nuremberg Race Laws, published on September 15, 1935. The Nazi Reich published these laws, which described how Jews and Aryans should act toward each other. Some of the laws forbid Jews from going to public places like park and movie theatres where some annul the marriages between Jews and Non-Jews.

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc /en/article.php?ModuleId=10007903

The pistol, originally designed as a cavalry weapon, was the staple weapon for a variety of personnel during World War One (and beyond).  Traditionally issued to officers of all armies the pistol was also issued to military police, airmen and tank operators.

Reasons for Pistol Use

For men involved in the latter professions the pistol was essentially the only weapon that would serve under their unique environments: the cramped conditions of both the tank and aircraft dictated that the rifle – which was otherwise issued to virtually all regular soldiers – was impractical.

As with the rifle the belligerent armies generally manufactured standard issue pistols, although shortages (as ever) required that a wide variety of models were put to practical use in the field.

Three Basic Types

When war began there were three types of pistol in general use: revolvers, clip-loaded automatics and the so-called ‘blow-back’ models (where expanding propellant gas caused the gun to reload by forcing the bolt back when fired).

Model by Model

Undoubtedly the most famous wartime pistol was the German Luger, although the British Webley was perhaps not so far behind.  The key models in use during 1914-18 – invariably designed in the late nineteenth century (as were most rifles) – are described below.



Some two million Luger 9mm P08 pistols were manufactured during wartime, and although primarily issued to officers (since the pistol continued to be viewed primarily as an officer’s weapon) it was also issued to soldiers engaged in a wide variety of tasks.

germanyThe Luger possessed a seven-round magazine loaded via the pistol butt.  Recoil-operated the Luger was regarded as both reliable and accurate but was never available in sufficient supplies to meet ever-increasing demand.  It was always a popular trophy when captured by Allied troops.

A variant of the Luger, the Parabellum M17, was issued in 1917.  Possessing a longer barrel it resembled a machine carbine with its magazine capable of holding 30 rounds.

Given the scarcity of the Luger, other models were consequently produced and substituted, including the Beholla 7.65mm automatic and the Mauser C96 and C10 pistols.  In fact the Mauser could lay a claim to being as popular and widespread as the Luger in the German army, and although bulky and somewhat awkward could fire a powerful 7.63mm or 9mm round.

The Mauser also had a wooden holster which, when fitted, effectively turned it into a shoulder-fired carbine rifle.  The Mauser Automatic was also widespread (in its original 1894 format) among the Italian army.

Both the Turkish and Bulgarian armies depended upon the Germans for supplies of pistols, using both Mauser and Beholla models.


The standard weapon in the German army, the 7.92 mm Mauser Gewehr 98 was designed (as its name suggests) in 1898 by Peter Paul Mauser (1838-1914).  Somewhat superior in design to the majority of its contemporaries, it incorporated the clip and germanmagazine into a single detachable mechanism, saving valuable loading time.

It suffered however from the disadvantage of being unsuited to rapid fire (on account of its bolt arrangement), and was limited by a five-cartridge magazine.

Nevertheless it was a thoroughly dependable, well tested and accurate weapon, and with its fitted optical sight, ideal for use in sniping.



The Webley Mk IV revolver, produced by Webley and Scott in Birmingham, was the standard issue British pistol, with some 300,000 produced during wartime.

The Mk IV model, which debuted at the close of the nineteenth century, was a 11.6mm calibre weapon and proved immensely reliable (and consequently popular) in wartime conditions – even among Flanders mud.

The Webley was issued not only to British troops, but also to officers from Empire countries.  Soldiers manning machine gun posts were usually equipped with a personal Webley revolver.

Much practice was required however before the Webley could be used accurately since it jumped on firing.  Despite its high reputation British officers generally preferred the use of a captured Luger when the opportunity arose, supposedly on account of its longer range.

A variation of the Webley, a self-loading automatic, was available from 1913 but was viewed as overly complex by the army.  It was nevertheless utilised by the Royal Navy.


Rivalling the Mauser both in terms of use and reputation was the British Lee-Enfield 0.303-inch rifle, which was issued to britishvirtually all British soldiers on the Western Front (and many elsewhere).  First produced in 1907 and officially titled the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) Mark III, the name was derived from its designer (James Lee, an American) and its manufacturer (the Royal Small Arms Factory based in Enfield, London).

Unlike the Mauser the Lee-Enfield, with its ten-cartridge magazine, was well suited to rapid fire; a suitably trained soldier could expect to fire twelve well-aimed shots a minute.

The Lee-Enfield proved so sturdy and reliable that its use continued into World War Two.  Its design was also incorporated into both U.S. and Canadian models.



The French standard issue weapon was the Pistole Revolveur Modele 1892.  It was manufactured by numerous state-owned factories and also in Belgium and Spain.

francePopularly referred to as either the ‘Lebel’ or ‘model d’Ordonnance’ it resembled the British Webley, although it fired six 8mm rounds.  Deemed eminently reliable the Lebel remained in common use throughout the Second World War.

Whereas the Webley was snapped open for the purposes of loading, the Lebel’s chamber swung out.

The Serbian army made use of French surplus stock, such as there was, for their own wartime use.


Just as the Germans adopted the Mauser and the British the Lee-Enfield, so the French opted for the Lebel 8 mm weapon (officially titled the Fusil modele, produced in 1886, and which unusually fired smokeless cartridges) as their rifle of choice during the war years.

frenchoneDespite its wide use it suffered from a marked practical design flaw.  Its eight rounds were loaded, nose to tail fashion, in a tubular magazine placed under the barrel of the rifle.  This resulted in slow loading since the operator had to be wary of one round hitting the primer of the cartridge in front, thereby causing a most unwelcome explosion.

Although a better French model, the Berthier, was available from 1916, the Lebel – despite its flaws – continued to be standard issue.

The French discovered a serious practical defect in their standard issue Lebel rifle.  Thus, two years into the war, the Berthier was issued as an improvement.  Officially titled the Fusil d’Infanterie Modele 1907, Transforme 1915, the replacement rifle was, like the Lee-Enfield, clip loaded.  The differences with the Lebel did not stop there however.  The rifle’s sights were different as was its bolt mechanism.

frenchtwoA fine weapon, the original Berthier (designed in 1907) nevertheless suffered, like its predecessor, from a design flaw – its magazine held only three rounds.  A modified version, produced in 1915, increased this to five rounds.  The result was the Fusil modele 1916, loaded from a six-round clip or charger.

Immediately popular demand was such that certain supplies of the model were produced in the U.S. by the Remington company.



The Belgium army was largely issued with two variants of the U.S. Browning revolver, namely the 1900 7.6mm blow-back and (less commonly) the 9 mm Model 1903.

Austria-Hungary & Romania

Both Austria-Hungary and Romania made extensive use of the Steyer Automatic, produced just before the war, in 1912.

The Steyer, which utilised an eight-round clip, fired 9mm bullets, although Hungarian home forces used a separate (Fegyvergyar) design firing 7.65 mm bullets; both were reliable weapons.


Produced in Budapest and Steyr (in Austria), and known as the Repetier Gewehr M95, the standard issue rifle of the Austro-Hungarian army was first produced in 1895.

AustroConsidered a strong design, the Repetier Gewehr M95 withstood a so-called torture test of firing 50,000 rounds through a single rifle without lubrication of any kind.  It was consequently produced in huge quantities during the war.

At one stage during the war the Austro-Hungarian army gave consideration to using the German Mauser rifle in preference to the Steyr-Mannlicher, before concluding that it was inferior in design to their own weapon.

This model was also subsequently used in large quantities by the Italian army (as World War One reparations).

United States


The U.S. army (and navy) essentially utilised three pistol models during wartime.

unitedStatesThe Colt 0.45-inch Automatic was introduced in 1911 and also used by the British Royal Navy in modified format.

Some 150,000 each of Colt Revolvers and Smith and Wesson Revolvers were manufactured; both fired 0.45-inch calibre bullets.  As with the Colt Automatic the British also bought the Colt Revolver for their own use.


The Springfield, manufactured in the U.S. (at Springfield, Massachusetts), was the standard wartime rifle of the U.S. army.  It was USreliable and produced in a short-barrelled version for issue to the American Expeditionary Force.  In short supply however around half of U.S. soldiers in the field were issued with the M1917 ‘American Enfield’.

The performance of the U.S. rifle was comparable to the British Lee-Enfield, and was also produced in a Mk1 automatic version.  The Springfield utilised a licensed Mauser action.  Derivatives of the Springfield remained in use until the Korean War.



Italian forces were issued with the 1910 Glisenti 9mm automatic; at least, they were when it was available – numbers were never produced to meet up with continuing demand.

In some respects similar to the German Luger the Glisenti was notably less durable.

Two other models were often seen in Italian use.  The Bodeo Revolver, designed in 1891, fired 0.45-inch calibre bullets; and the Beretta 7.65 mm automatic, produced in 1915, was widespread if unpopular (chiefly for the inaccuracy of its fire, a severe drawback).



russiaChronically short of revolvers, Russian officers were obliged to make do with whatever they could find.

Officially Russian officers were supposed to be issued either a Mauser Automatic (one of the older models) or the Belgian-designed Nagant revolver.


Source: http://www.firstworldwar.com/weaponry/pistols.htm


– Jonathan Samuelsen

When trying to think of an interesting World War I topic to start my primary source search for I decided that the impact of the war on life at home would be a good choice. Most of the history classes I have taken have only touched on how things at home were affected and focused more on what was happening in the actual war itself. After searching through a couple different books in the library and looking at different results on the Internet, I was able to find two sources that gave me some insight into what life was like for people that were not off fighting in the war in two different countries. I have never really used primary sources before, so I found it to be a really interesting and different way to learn about what was going on at the time. I thought it was helpful to get my information from something other than a textbook to help me reach an understanding of how things really were during World War I. Through my research I found that people in two different countries both had to go through struggles and make different sacrifices to get through them.

The first primary source that I found was a book in the library titled Among the Ottomans. The book contains a collection of diaries from a woman in Turkey named Mrs. Marie Lyster. Marie Lyster is a woman whose husband and two sons were off fighting the war, leaving her at home to care for her elderly mother. The diary entries gave great insight into how hard both she and the people around her struggled during the hard times. Through the tone of her writing as time went on it also became very apparent that those struggles had taken a great toll on her. Her struggle was apparent from the very first entry, where she complains of the extremely high prices of food and how people must go hungry in an attempt to conserve food and money. However, one of the quotes that stuck with me most pertaining to her hunger and the high food prices comes over a year later in the diaries when she states “we have not eaten meat for ten days, nor have many like us. I must admit that I miss it, but who can afford 43pts for lamb, 36 for beef and 48 for mutton? Fish is also out of the question. It would be like eating gold. We have had no water for four days; we only have it one of two days a week” (Lyster 19). I felt that this quote was when the lack of food and water needed to survive was most evident in her writings. I also thought that this lack of food and high prices foreshadowed how the empire was getting ready to collapse a few years, as it showed a society full of poverty and hunger. It was also very obvious that food prices continued to get worse, as a few months later she states how she looked back to the beginning of her diary and was amused by the bread prices she complained about, explaining that they are now four times as much.

Another thing that was shown throughout my readings was the effect that the struggling times had on Marie Lyster, and I’m sure many of her fellow citizens. Throughout the three years of diary entries it is clear in the tone of her writing that she is continuously becoming more and more exhausted. Early in her entries, she spoke more of family and her day-to-day personal life. As times became harder for her, she spoke less of those things and more of how she had no money, no food, or what was happening in the war and how it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to keep in good spirits. Towards the end of her entries, she even states that “these four years have tried me; Alfred [her husband] will find that I have no go in me; I feel very limp and indifferent to everything” (Lyster 63). This quote shows that she, and I’m sure many other people around her, have almost completely lost their will to go on as a result of the hunger and poverty. One last thing about her mood throughout the diaries is the way it ends. She seems to be in a bit higher spirits when the war is over, but then the entries stop after that which made me wonder if it was because things did not get much better around her and they continued to take a toll on her high spirits.

The final thing that I found really interesting while reading Lyster’s diaries was how different things are from today pertaining to how unknowing Lyster was about what was happening in the war. Some of the diary entries made me realize how lucky we are to have the technology we do today that allows us to receive news much more quickly than they did during World War I. In one entry, Marie writes about she could not go out during the day and nobody came to see her, so she had no idea what was going on with the war. In another entry after they had a night alert, she tells how the papers do not write about them and explain so the truth leaks out in bits, which I would assume is news also mixed with rumors and a little speculation as well. Entries like that made me realize just how lucky we are today to have something like the Internet, where we can get news quickly and conveniently so we can know when something important happens in a more timely, almost instantaneous manner. The lack of easy access to news during that time also made me understand her fear of if her husband or sons were still alive, as it could take weeks for her to find out if something were to happen.

The second primary source that I found was a photograph from Coventry, England during World War I. It shows a group of women pushing wheelbarrows full of what appears to be some sort of rocks, but it was hard to tell because the image was black and white. The women were working on building the railway while the men were off fighting the war. The women all gave off a tough impression and looked very tired, as I’m sure some of them also had families at home to raise while they try to keep the workforce running smoothly with the workers away at war. I also found the attire of the women very interesting. They were all wearing dresses while they worked on the railroad instead of some sort of work uniform or even something more practical for manual labor. I felt this photograph was a great example of a different side of the struggle that was not really portrayed in Among the Ottomans. It shows how along with the hunger and poverty, the people left at home still had to do their best to continue the day-to-day operations of the workforce. It also foreshadows how times are changing for women throughout the rest of the 1900s as they got a change to emerge from the role of caretaker or homemaker and become more equal in society.

Through examining both of my primary sources, I was given some really unique insight into what life was like for the people at home during World War I that I would not likely have been able to get from any history textbook. Among the Ottomans gave me a look into what it was like to be a part of society in a declining empire, while the photograph gave me a look into how women stepped up to help out while their husbands, fathers, or sons were away fighting the war and protecting their country. As for the preservation of the two primary sources, I had no concerns about the photograph because there is no way to really partially conserve a photograph. It either still exists or it does not. However, the diaries I was a little curious about. In the introduction, the editor, Ian Lyster, who is the grandson of Marie Lyster, states that he cut out some of the entries to spare the reader from having to read too many family details. This may make it a more convenient read and may not have really taken too much important information away from the reader, but there is also still the chance that something important was taken out by the editor. This made me realize how much more difficult it is for written text to be preserved throughout history, as bits and pieces of it can be taken out without it really being obvious to the reader that the original work is not all there.

Works Cited

Lyster, Marie, Henry Newbolt Lyster, and Ian Lyster. AMONG THE OTTOMANS: Diaries from Turkey in World War I. LONDON: I.B. TAURIS, 2011. Print.

Women “navvies” work on railway building in Coventry, England. Digital Image. CNN. CNN. 2 July 2014. Web. 22 November 2015.


– Jonathan Samuelsen

The Man Who Fixed Faces

By on December 2, 2015 1 Comment

During World War I, shrapnel was the cause of countless gruesome and in many cases, deadly injuries. With the level of medical knowledge at the time, doctors were able to save soldiers’ lives and keep them alive, but the injuries left them in terrible physical condition. This was where Harold Gillies came in. The British army asked Gillies, who studied medicine at Cambridge, to attempt to fix the injuries of the soldiers. After seeing some of the facial injuries some of the soldiers had, Gillies talked the army into setting up a unit for plastic surgery, which was still in its very primitive stage at the time. Because of this primitive stage many of the procedures that were performed were experimental and extremely dangerous due to the lack of antibiotics at the time.

One of Harold Gillie’s major successes with facial reconstruction was the face of Lieutenant William Spreckley, whose picture you can see below this paragraph. Spreckley had his nose blown off during the war, and Gillies experimented with a procedure known as the “forehead flap” to fix it. He had to remove a piece of rib cartilage from the patient and attach it to the patient’s forehead. After the cartilage has had time to heal in the forehead, it was then swung down into position where the excess tissue could be removed after another healing period. In all, the surgery took three years to complete but as can be seen in the picture below it was incredibly effective as far as facial reconstruction went at the time.


Unfortunately, there were many failures as well to go along with Gillie’s successes. In one case, Gillie’s attempted to take a face-shaped flap from a patient’s chest in order to repair burns to his face. Due to the lack of antibiotics during that time period, the patient became so infected that he died of heart failure. Despite the many surgical advances that Gillie made, other soldiers were also not able to overcome the psychological effects of their injuries and would not go out in public. Even though he was not able to successfully repair everybody’s injuries, Gillie’s discoveries in the field of facial reconstruction have led to numerous other advancements and allowed plastic surgery to become what it is today.


– Jonathan Samuelsen

Choctaw Code Talkers

By on December 2, 2015 3 Comments

One of the biggest problems for the Allies during World War I was Germany’s success with intercepting. Since we typically used encoding systems based on European languages or mathematics, the messages were not that difficult for the Germans to decode. This kept the Allies from being able to keep anything a surprise and allowed the German’s to stay one step ahead, until one company commander had a brilliant idea. After overhearing some of his men speaking in their native language, Choctaw, he realized that the German’s would have no way of understanding the language and that they could use it to send messages more safely. The impact of the Choctaw code talkers was felt immediately and is even credited with bringing about the end of the war more quickly. To test the effectiveness of the new code, they successfully surprised the enemy by withdrawing two companies from the front. Over the next few days the Allies attacked in full force, using the Choctaw Indians in a major role for communication. The Indians even had to invent new code for some of the military terms that they did not have words for, like referring to the artillery “big gun” and my personal favorite, referring to machine guns as “little gun shoot fast.” While the Choctaw Indians had a big impact in the end of World War I, I would say their greatest contribution is that they lead the way to using the Navajo Wind Talkers in World War II, who developed a complex code of over 600 terms as compared to the Choctaw’s 20 terms.



– Jonathan Samuelsen


Sir  Isaac Newton was an English-born mathematician of the Scientific Revolution. Like many other scientists of this time, he built upon the work of his predecessors, especially Galileo. The Italian astronomer used the telescope to make extremely precise observations of planets and moons in the night sky that had never been achieved before. Newton used these observations to derive his three laws of motion and in doing so, calculus. The relationship between calculus and Newtonian physics is sometimes overlooked and to understand it, we must first define what calculus does.

Put simply, calculus is the mathematical study of change. It describes the change in slopes and rates as a series of increments at many points in time. The foundation of calculus is differential calculus. The derivative of a line is the line’s slope, or rate of change, at that moment in time. This is an extremely important concept in understanding the physical laws of motion because we can now understand how position, velocity, and acceleration are related. An object’s velocity is the rate of change of the object’s position at a specific moment of time, while acceleration is the rate of change of the object’s velocity at a specific moment in time. Therefore, velocity is the derivative of position and acceleration is the derivative of velocity.

It was with this new understanding of calculus and the extensive research of Galileo that Newton was able to calculate his three laws of motion. First, the net force of an object with a constant velocity (i.e. no acceleration) is zero. This is also known as the law of inertia and implies that an object at motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless another force acts upon it. The second law states that force is equal to the mass of the object times the rate of change, or derivative, of its velocity, also known as force equals mass times acceleration. The second law is also an answer to the obvious question raised by the first law. If an object at rest tends to stay at rest until a force acts upon it, what force acts upon an object when it is at rest and released from a height, causing it to fall? The answer is gravity. An object will have a constant acceleration downward due to the force of gravity. This acceleration is constant among all objects regardless of mass, and the only thing that changes with mass if the force of the object. The third law states that every force exerted in one direction will have the same magnitude in the opposite direction, or every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Absent of friction, if one were to push off of a wall, the same amount of force the person applied to the wall would be applied backward on the person and he/she would slide backwards.

Ultimately, Newton’s contributions have been some of the most significant in the entire history of science and mathematics, practically inventing the entire fields of physics and calculus. Isaac Newton’s legacy as one of the greatest scientific minds in the past millennium is certainly justified.


Sources: http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Physics-Tutorial/Newton-s-Laws


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