Science And Technology In The 19Th Century

Essay, Research Paper


Royal Society of London:

Along with the evolution of Science in the fifteenth Century appeared a desire to gather the founders of the intriguing experiments and windfalls. Such gatherings assured the sharing of scientific information as well as its understanding and critics. The Royal Society was founded in 1660 by a number of scholars, including Christopher Wren, Robert Boyle and Robert Moray. King Charles II granted the Society its first Charter on 15 July 1662. The Intelligencia ,or people who studied science and created knowledge were the key members of the Royal Society of London. Meetings to discuss the then new experiments, had been held since 1645 in London and Oxford. There, members discussed experiments based on the principle ‘Nullius in verba’, taken from Horace, the determination of early Fellows to verify all statements by an appeal to facts. Up to 1847 Fellowship was open to all those interested in the `new philosophy’, but from 1848 elections have been limited in number and to those distinguished for original scientific work. Not only was the Royal Society a way to gather British scientists, but most importantly, it was the first gateway to attract the public s interest and involvement in Science.


The modern urge to study humankind on a new, scientific basis took many, often interesting forms in the nineteenth Century. Developed by the Austrian,Franz Josephe Gall (1758-1828), and J. C Spurzheim (1776-1832), Phrenology held that the brain was the organ of thought and will, that its determined character, and that its configurations revealed personality. The brain was a jigsaw of separate organs occupying specific cortical areas and shaping the personality. An organ s size governed the exercise of its functions; the contours of the skull signaled the brain configurations beneath, while the overall balance of the bumps determined personality. The modern urge to study humankind on a new, scientific basis took many, often strange, forms in the nineteenth century. Little by little, the concept of Phrenology introduced a judgment by the sight for example, when the archvillain, Moriarity, meets his adversary Sherlock Holmes for the first time, his immediate comment was, “You have less frontal development that I should have expected.” The prognathous (protruding) jaw became a sign of lower development and of a closer relationship to primitive man. It also became the basis of much racial stereotyping of the Irish, and phrenologists argued that the working classes were more prognathous than the upper.


In the 1800s, after Napoleons defeat, Prussia felt the need to bring reformed ministries in order to educate people better therefore, create more universities. In 1810 as gymnasiums were also reformed, and more schools established , a need for more teachers appeared. The university system expanded enormously. With this educational expansion, came the new concept of Wissenshaft , that education should not be pedagogical and technical, but instead the notion that people needed to be trained to be better people and citizens. According to that concept, citizens (specially students) would need to acquire a true education to achieve a proper education by learning philosophy and history. Along with that concept, came the idea of unity of knowledge, and the statement that it is not enough to know what, but we have to know how and why. The result of this doctrine was the appearance of resource seminar, and a stress on original research by students and professors. Scientist start to defend their studies in the terms of Wissenschaft. Along with this concept appeared the first university research library introduced by Justus Lieben in (1803-1873) .

Pierre Louis

Pierre Louis (1787-1872) was a young French Scientist who developed La m thode num rique . The concept of his research was to use simple arithmetic to put therapies to the test, for it is precisely because of the impossibility of judging each individual case with any sort of mathematical accuracy that it is necessary to count (Online Student Library). According to his study, a single case taught nothing, but it two large batches of blindly selected patients underwent distinct treatments, differential mortality figures would assume genuine significance. In invoking arithmetic to evaluate therapeutics, Louis paved the way for the clinical trial, while providing models for the social statistics and more sophisticated biometrics.


Prior to the eighteenth century, Science was already undergoing many changes that allowed it to develop. However, before that period, As Science was viewed as a luxury, Scientific studies and projects were mostly reserved to the upper-level social class that had the time and money for experiments. Mostly everywhere throughout Europe, education was only offered to the upper-level social class and there weren t any funds nor were there facilities for scientific education. It is important to mention Napoleon Bonaparte s era, since it brought many changes to the world of Science.

In France, the reign of Napoleon helped promote science in some interesting ways. His regime created a network of pre-fixes and sub-prefixes as well as maires, who each depended on his patronage. Such an organization allowed schools to be organized, standardized and centralized. The Emperor s authority gave birth to established universities that were lower in status and poorer in prestige. Thanks to Napoleon s strategy, universities had another image and goal, one of which was the employment of scientists. The Ecole Normale , which was the leading institution for preparation of teaching, became the center for research and Science. As a conqueror, the French Emperor had to invest in studies related to navigation and Astronomy, that is why the Bureau des Longitudes appeared . With his hunger for fame, Napoleon did a Scientific propaganda for France. Also, with Napoleons defeat, Prussia felt the need to educate people better, therefore, create more universities. As gymnasiums were reformed, and more schools established , a need for more teachers appeared. The university system then expanded, a new concept of civilian education emerged : Wissenshaft , the idea that education should not be pedagogical and technical, but instead that there should be a training to make subjects better people and citizens. According to that concept, citizens would need to acquire a true education to achieve a proper education. As we can see, all these events already gave a different notion of science, which was then considered as a tool for national expansion, and these new ideas were indeed far from the concept of Virtuosi .

Since all these changes took place, the low culture/high culture dilemma started to fade away, more people from the lower and middle class could access scientific information. The publication of certain periodicals, throughout Europe, but mainly in Great Britain, was also an important factor to the expansion of Science. Because of the wide affordable sale of scientific periodicals, the lower and middle class could learn about scientific techniques such as melting iron, or even how to use science to grow plants. Not only the focus on science increased their knowledge and enhance their business, but it also increased self-esteem, a necessary tool to fight social classes boundaries.

The emancipation of science period was also characterized by a violent demographic increase in Great Britain during the mid-eighteenth century. With the industrial revolution and the migration of factory workers to the cities, appeared some concerns. Public health becomes a problem, when a study was done in the statistic section of the British Association for the advancement of Science. The study showed that people were more healthy in the country side, and unhealthy in the city, however, in the city, rich people were healthier than poor people, whereas legitimate children were more healthy than illegitimate children. In fact, it was discovered that factories employment in the city, brought a huge mass of poor, unhealthy people, who were living in highly concentrated little housing. Those living conditions were very unsanitary, containing no sewage system. Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) argued that it was disease that caused poverty. He believed that the solution remained in cleanliness and that if the living conditions were enhanced, we could make living healthier, then more people would work and develop industrial habits, therefore a more powerful economy. For him, the key to healthy citizen was to get clean water and install good sanitation, even though these alternatives were more of a social solution rather medical solution. John Simon (1816-1904) who replaced Chadwick passed the Public Health Act in 1875 which regulated housing, sewage, and water, as well as promoting health advising literature. This Public Health Act was very successful and inspired other countries and their scientists such as the French scientist Claude Bernard (1813-1878) who was unhappy with the French hospital system. He gave a new vision of medicine by denouncing the lack of attention brought to research that would determine the causes of diseases. He rejected the statistical system, since it didn t help cure people, for him, every individual was different and should be treated individually. Claude Bernard was the most famous physiologist thanks to his new vision. .Among his fellow scientists were important figures such as chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) trained at the Ecole Normale and devoted his research to micro-biology. He developed the Germ theory of disease. With his unique chemical way of seeking for medical cures for diseases, Pasteur discovered cures such as the rabies vaccine. Also in Germany, the Professor of anatomy and physiology Johannes Muller (1800-1858) all vital phenomena could be explained by applying the laws of physics and chemistry. He experimented on animals to see how diseases progressed and tried to determine how bodies worked in the hope of finding cures. His strategy was to explore by using scientific instruments such as the Microscope. The German scientist Robert Koch (1843-1910) was also an active researcher in Germany. He was focused to use experiments and methods to understand diseases caused by bacteria, his laboratory found vaccines for diseases such as tuberculosis, colera and plague. German Joseph Lister (1827-1912) was also a figure who gave a new vision surgery by linking the concept of the Germ theory of disease to his surgery practices with his idea of washing his hands to kill bacteria before operating. By 1895, it was generally accepted that medicine and science worked together.

The implication of government in public health was a significant factor which supported the new vision of science as an authoritative culture. Not only was the government sponsoring scientists for research, but it was pushing the everyday worker to get involved in science. The implementation of science as an authoritative culture was a strategy to make European countries grow healthier and stronger. The problems encountered by scientists, the government and people in general were surmounted with the help of medical science. Even though medicine did not cure all the time, it did prevent from ravaging deadly diseases.


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