Unit 1 Great scientists
Edmund Halley was an English scientist who lived over 200 years ago. He studied the observations of comets (彗星) which other scientists had made. The orbit(轨道)of one particular comet was a very difficult mathematical problem. He could not figure it out. Neither could other scientists who dealt with such problems.
However, Halley had a friend named Isaac Newton, who was a brilliant mathematician. Newton thought he had already worked out that problem, but he could not find the papers on which he had done it. He told Halley that the orbit of a comet had the shape of an ellipse(椭圆形)．
Now Halley set to work. He figured out(解决，计算出)the orbits of some of the comets that had been observed by scientists. He made a surprising discovery. The comets that had appeared in the years 1531, 1607, and 1682 all had the same orbit. Yet their appearance had been 75 to 76 years apart.
This seemed very strange to Halley. Three different comets followed the same orbit. The more Halley thought about it, the more he thought that there had not been three different comets as people thought. He decided that they had simply seen the same comet three times. The comet had gone away and had come back again.