The scientific revolution was the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed views of society and nature. The scientific revolution began in Europe towards the end of the Renaissance period and continued through the late 18th century, influencing the intellectual social movement known as the Enlightenment.
Timeline of a Scientific Revolution
- 1600 – Galileo Galilei discovers the principle of inertia, building the stage for a rational view of motion.
- 1600 – William Gilbert finds that Earth has magnetic poles and acts like a huge magnet.
- 1600 – Galileo Galilei discovers that projectiles move with a parabolic trajectory.
- 1608 – Hans Lippershey invents the refracting telescope, which Galileo Galilei soon puts to use.
- 1609 – Galileo Galilei observes moons of Jupiter, disproving church dogma that all movement in the universe is centered on Earth.
- 1609 – Johannes Kepler publishes his first two laws of planetary motion showing that planets move in elliptical orbits around the sun.
- 1610 – John Napier publishes tables of logarithms, showing how they can be used to accelerate calculations.
- 1619 – Kepler publishes his third law of planetary motion relating the time taken for a planet to orbit the sun with its distance from the sun.
- 1621 – Willebrord Snell discovers the laws of light refraction.
- 1628 – Kepler publishes his planetary tables, the calculations for which would have taken years without Napier’s logarithms.
- 1629 – Nicolaus Cabeus finds there are two types of electric charge and notes both attractive and repulsive forces acting.
- 1632 – William Oughtred invents the slide rule. With the combined power of logarithms and slide rules, calculation speeds explode.
- 1632 – Galileo Galilei finds that the laws of motion are the same in all inertial reference frames.
- 1637 – Rene Descartes invents the Cartesian coordinate system – i.e. the x-y axis for graphs, allowing changes in quantities with time to be plotted.
- 1645 – Blaise Pascal invents the adding machine.
- 1652 – Thomas Bartholin discovers the human lymphatic system.
- 1662 – Robert Boyle publishes his law of pressure and volume in gases.
- 1654 – Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat invent the mathematics of probability and statistics.
- 1656 – Christiaan Huygens discovers Saturn’s rings after building a new telescope – the world’s best in scientific revolution.
- 1657 – Pierre de Fermat uses the principle of least time in optics.
- 1658 – Jan Swammerdam discovers the red blood cell.
- c1660 – Otto von Guerkicke builds a rotating sphere from which sparks fly. Static electricity can now be generated. He demonstrates electrostatic repulsion.
- 1660 – Robert Hooke discovers that the extension of a spring or elastic material is directly proportional to the applied force.
- 1661 – Robert Boyle writes The Skeptical Chymist, with his manifesto for the science of chemistry, explaining the roles of elements and compounds, and telling scientists they must carefully observe, record and report scientific data.
- 1633 – James Gregory publishes his design for the world’s first reflecting telescope.
- 1664 – Robert Hooke uses a microscope to observe the cellular basis of life.
- 1665 – Isaac Newton invents calculus – the mathematics of change – without which we could not understand the modern world. He keeps it secret, using it to develop theories which he eventually publishes in 1687.
- 1666 – Isaac Newton discovers that light is made up of all of the colors of the rainbow, which are refracted by different amounts in a glass prism.
- 1667 – Isaac Newton builds the world’s first reflecting telescope.
- 1668 – John Wallis discovers the principle of conservation of momentum – one of the foundations of modern physics.
- 1669 – Hennig Brand becomes the first identifiable person to have discovered and isolated a new chemical element – phosphorus.
- 1674 – Antony van Leeuwenhoek discovers microorganisms.
- 1675 – Robert Boyle shows that electric repulsion and attraction act in a vacuum.
- 1676 – Ole Christensen Roemer measures the speed of light for the first time.
- 1676 – Christiann Huygens finds light can be refracted and diffracted and should be considered to be a wave-like phenomenon.
- 1684 – Gottfried Leibniz publishes his calculus, which he discovered independently of Isaac Newton. He has been working on calculus for the past decade.
- 1687 – Isaac Newton publishes one of the most important books in scientific revolution ever: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, revolutionizing physics and our understanding of gravity and motion.
This was a momentous century in which science moved from a state of knowledge that was in many ways little more advanced than third century BC Greece to a much more advanced, sophisticated position, paving the way for the industrial scientific revolution in the 1700s, and many more famous scientists.
Probably the greatest advantages that Renaissance scientists had over their ancient Greek predecessors were:
- The invention of the movable type printing press in 1450 by Johannes Gutenberg
- Leonardo Fibonacci brought the Hindu-Arabic number system to Europe in 1202 AD.