What was the Scientific Revolution?


The Scientific Revolution began in the mid 16th century and lasted till the late 17th century. It was a period of revolutionary scientific, theoretical, and experimental development that contributed to the beginning of modern science.

Its influence was expansive and its numerous developments transformed ideas in the fields of physics, astronomy, biology, mathematics, chemistry, and more. The Scientific Revolution would have an incredible influence on the subsequent Enlightenment and its many thinkers.

The Scientific Revolution began with the 1543 publication of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (De revolutionibus orbium coelestium), NicolausCopernicus’ foundational and groundbreaking work that presented the heliocentric model of cosmology. Copernicus placed the sun, not the Earth, at the center of the universe. The revolution ultimately ended with Isaac Newton’s cosmological work Mathematical Principles of Natural philosophy which was published in 1687.

Through these revolutionary titles, as well as the works of many other scholars and academics, the Scientific Revolution not only saw a fundamental transformation in scientific ideas and views of the world but also a transformation away from the ancient views expressed in Aristotelianism that still played a significant role in the framework of 17th century thought.

Many thinkers were active during the Scientific Revolution who made some remarkable scientific discoveries across a range of domains. The physician Andreas Vesalius, considered by some to be the father of human anatomy, theorized widely concerning the human body and found that the circulation of blood is a consequence of the pumping of the heart. The English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561–1626) made significant contributions to scientific endeavor through his interest in and articulation of the scientific method which emphasized the need for collating and organizing data that would help generate inductive hypotheses. Famous Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), considered by some to be the father of astronomy and remembered for advocating heliocentrism despite its controversy at the time, not only enhanced the telescope but also made numerous astronomical observations. Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) outlined his three laws of planetary motion and Issac Newton (1643–1727) proposed the law of universal gravitation and developed the infinitesimal calculus.

The scientific work of these men as well as many others ultimately changed the way human beings conducted scientific research and, perhaps most importantly, how they viewed the world.



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