Scientific Revolution Essay, Research Paper
The Scientific Revolution was a time of change and new thinking. Many innovators had new ideas about the earth and many other things, but most challenged the Church in thinking of these new concepts. This revolution was so important to the development of mankind that modern historians honor the phrase with initial capital letters. This change of thought took almost two centuries to become established in western Europe; today this prolonged crisis is known as the Scientific Revolution. This new way of seeking the world, was first introduced with Copernicus’s work published in 1543. It reached its triumphal acceptance with the appearance on Isaac Newton’s “Principia” in 1687*. The one person who set the Scientific Revolution in motion and pulled modern science out of ancient natural philosophy, was Galileo Galilei. He realized that the old way of looking at the world would have to go; and he knew how to begin constructing a new way. He did this by making physics mathematical. Some say that Galileo and Newton were the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution; for Isaac Newton was born a few months after the death of Galileo. Newton’s ideas finally ensured the acceptability of the scientific approach. Another great innovator was Sir Francis Bacon, he developed the widely used scientific method. He proved many scientific truths by doing many experiments. These innovators and more made this revolution very important to everyone alive.
During the Middle Ages, the Europeans believed that the earth was flat. They accepted the Catholic Church’s views that the earth was the center of the universe, but others thought differently. According to church doctrine, God created the universe to serve people, but many rejected that. The Church also reasoned that the earth must be the center of the universe, and not the sun. A few years later, during the 1600s, Galileo came along and thought very differently on the lines of the earth and the moon. The Church would not tolerate Galileo’s spreading of beliefs that contradicted its own position. Newton and Bacon also had many ideas that the Church refused to believe. The Europeans believed many things that are different than what the many innovators later proved.
One innovator that stands out among all, is Galileo Galilei. This innovator was said to have set the Scientific Revolution in motion. Although Galileo had many ideas, they were not all original, and some can even be traced back to ancient Greece. Galileo often criticized Aristotle, but he later realized that he had set out the basic questions we must answer, if we want to know how the world works. He showed how instruments designed according to the principles of optics, a mathematical science, could extend the powers of the human senses, making them stronger and more reliable.
Galileo worked very hard as a student and for his family. When his father died in 1591, he found himself burdened with the duties of head of the family. Later in 1592, he got a better job than he had before, teaching mathematics at the University of Padua, at three times his salary. Padua was the premier university of Italy, and one of the best in all of Europe. There, Galileo made many friends with some of the leading minds of Italy. At Padua, he carried on his investigation of the simplest movements we can observe. Later, by about 1609, he had worked out the main lines of this new science of uniformly accelerated motion, and told his friends that he was preparing a book on it. At this time, he was distracted by hearing of a new and remarkable invention, the telescope. He saw this invention a potential for astronomy. To begin with, he looked at the Moon, and noticed the it had great mountain ranges. However, his most dramatic sight was the “stars,” new worlds which humans had never seen before. Among these Galileo noticed three next to the planet Jupiter. The very success of him began to arouse suspicion and jealousy. Many sermons were preached against “Galileists” in Florence; there were complaints that he “defiles the dwelling place of the angels by seeing spots on the Sun and Moon, and lessens our hopes of Heaven”. Galileo tried to defend himself by maintaining that it always had been permitted to interpret Scripture as allegory. But then he was accused of wishing to explain the Bible in different ways other than those of the Roman Catholic Church, a very dangerous idea when the Protestant Reformation was a major threat. He went to Rome and persuaded to the authorities that he was no heretic, but he was told that Copernicanism was contrary to sound doctrine, and must not be taught or defended in writing. Back in Florence, he gave up astronomy for a while, instead he wrote to criticize other astronomers. In 1641, he began to think of the possible application of the pendulum to keep time. After many years passed, Galileo became something of a tourist attraction, with whom foreign visitors could commiserate, when they could get permission to see him. Galileo, a mathematician, physicist and astronomer, sadly died early in January of 1642.
Isaac Newton was also a great scientist, he was the successor to Galileo. The Scientific Revolution reached its height with Newton’s “Principia,” which summed up the partial and fragmented work of his predecessors and contemporaries. The influence of the “Principia” was backed up some years later by the publication of Newton’s “Opticks.” The “Principia; has been called the greatest scientific book ever written. These two books led to the development of “Newtonian Science” in the eighteenth century.
Newton was born in England on Christmas Day, December 25, 1642. Later he attended Trinity College, where he followed a traditional pattern of learning. Students there attended lectures in classics, logic, ethics, rhetoric, and some mathematics. For his first three years there, he was a poor scholar. He earned his keep by looking after the richer students, the lecturers, and professors. He ran errands, served food, cleaned boots, and many other tasks. Newton was soon learning mathematics at a remarkable speed. He overwhelmed his teachers and went into new areas, studying geometry and algebra. One of his early advances was a development of the binomial theorem. Unexpectedly, a terrible and Great Plague of 1665 killed 70,000 people in London alone•10. The authorities closed important centers of learning, such as Cambridge University, and many students and teachers had to leave. He returned to his home in August to continue his work at the family home. During his away from school, Newton was mainly alone, away from the bustle of university life. This was probably the most important period of his life for scientific thought•11. He did not publish his work immediately in his scientific journals, it came out gradually in various ways over the following years. During the plague years, he was also working on different kinds of mathematics. He devised a new mathematical technique of flowing or changing quantities called calculus. It involves dealing with numbers that are not constant but changing•14. Newton also used his ideas to explain the motions of moons and planets. He was beginning to think instead about some form of invisible attraction between objects. The legend of the apple occurred during this time period, which led to the concept of gravity. After the great efforts and effects of the “Principia,” Newton’s scientific career was almost over. In 1693, he suffered a mental breakdown and therefore, he could not study science as much, but he slowly recovered. Newton could be charming and friendly some times, but aggressive and abusive at others. He was extremely sensitive to criticism. On 1727, Newton died on March 31 in London.
Another innovator, Sir Francis Bacon, was the son of Nicolas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Seal of Elisabeth I. He entered the college, Trinity College Cambridge, at age 12. He later described his tutors as “Men of sharp wits, shut up in their cells of a few authors, chiefly Aristotle, their Dictator.” This is the beginning of Bacon’s rejection of Aristotelianism and Scholasticism and the new Renaissance Humanism. His father died when he was 18, and being the youngest son, this left him penniless. He turned to the law and at age 23 he was already in the House of Commons. It was not until James I became King that Bacon’s career advanced and became known for. Bacon saw himself as the inventor of a method which would kindle a light in nature – “a light that would eventually disclose and bring into sight all that is most hidden and secret in the universe.” This method involved the collection of data, their judicious interpretation, the carrying out of experiments, then to learn the secrets of nature by organized observation of its regularities. If a scientific truth is not assumed, it is deduced from observations and a series of thorough experiments. Bacon’s ideas and proposals had a powerful influence on the development of science in seventeenth century Europe.
The most significant discovery was in the 1700s, which was the application of the scientific view to an understanding of the world. Philosophers began to apply the scientific method to all human ideas and practices. Most people didn’t really care about what happened at this point. In the years to come, science would profoundly alter humanity’s view of the world.
Today’s technological revolution had many new innovations that we did not have during the scientific revolution. For example instead of writing everything down, we have computers that store our data for us. Another is example is that we have space shuttles, so that we can actually go to the moon instead of just looking at it thorough a telescope. Today, we still use many things that they also used back then. For example, we still use the scientific method developed by Sir Francis Bacon. Also we use the incredible telescopes which were developed by Galileo. We rely on Newton’s idea of gravity, by his legendary apple story. Many things these days are the same, but scientists and other people have just improved them to make them even better. The Scientific Revolution was a time of change and new ideas. Galileo, Bacon and Newton are very good examples to show that this revolution was very successful and will always be remembered.
Bauer, Joseph E. “The Scientific Revolution.” Journal of American Culture Summer 1998:23-25
This article briefly talks about the Scientific Revolution. It helped me talk about the Scientific Revolution. I used it to talk about the Scientific Revolution.
Johnson, Robert “The Scientific Revolution and The Enlightenment”
This talks about different scientists during the Scientific Revolution, but in lesser detail. Helped me learn about different scientists of the time. I used it to tell about different scientists.
Moore, Patrick Watchers of the stars: The Scientific Revolution. New York: Putnam, 1974, ?1973
This thoroughly explains major parts of the Scientific Revolution. It will help me gain a better understanding of the Scientific Revolution. I used it to explain parts of the Scientific Revolution.
Rempel, Gerhard “The Scientific Revolution.”
Talks about different scientists during the Scientific Revolution. Helped me learn about different scientists of the time. I used it to tell about different scientists.
Taylor, James R. The Scientific Revolution: Aspirations and Achievements. New York: Dell, 1965, ?1951
Briefly explains what the Scientific Revolution was. It helped me gain a better understanding of what it was. Used to help explain it.
Vary, David. “Brief history on the Scientific Revolution.” New York Times 02 Feb. 1990: 12B
Light history on the Scientific Revolution. Used it to the best of my knowledge to help my paper.
Wheeler, Nicholas “Results of the Scientific Revolution”
Tells the results of the Scientific Revolution. Used it to briefly tell about the results of the Scientific Revolution.