25 Most Significant Intellectual Events

  • Jan 1, 1347

    Petrach's Secretum Meum

    Petrach's Secretum Meum
    Petrarch is considered to be the "Father of Humanism" and the "Father of the Renaissance" because of his philosophy on human potential. In this work, Petrarch theorizes that secular achievements do not preclude a religious relationship with God, but rather that God has given humans vast intellectual potential. Petrarch was admired for his interest in the Classical World, and his spirit of "self-awarness" that came to define the Renaissance.
  • Jan 1, 1440

    Johannes Gutenberg's Printing Press

    Johannes Gutenberg's Printing Press
    Johannes Gutenberg forever changed the world with the introduction of his printing press in 1440. Based off of a combination of new and already existing technology, the printing press introduced movable type to Europe. This gave Europeans the ability to reproduce and circulate texts at an exponentially faster rate than before.
  • Apr 15, 1452

    The Life of Leonardo da Vinci

    The Life of Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci is known as the "universal man" for his relentless curiosity in almost all facets of the universe. From anatomy and engineering to painting, da Vinci represented the Renaissance ideal of Humanism in the sense that human potential is limitless. Some of da Vinci's best work include the Mona Lisa, perhaps the best known painting in the world, and various sketches to flying machines and tanks.
  • Jan 1, 1509

    Desiderius Erasmus's "The Praise of Folly"

    Desiderius Erasmus's "The Praise of Folly"
    "The Praise of Folly" was a satirical handbook on the insitituions of Christian doctrine. As a result, Erasmus is considered the father of bibical criticism. His goal was to demonstrate the impact of ideas--not the ideas themselves. Erasmus taught his readers how to live a Christain life centered around the experiences of Christ.
  • Jan 1, 1513

    Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince"

    Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince"
    Written while in exile, Machiavelli wrote "The Prince" based off of historical examples and contemporary events and was purely secular in nature. "The Prince" was one of the first formal denunciation of divine right of rulers. "The chief foundations on which all states rest are good laws and good arms."
  • Jan 1, 1543

    Nicolaus Copernicus's "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"

    Nicolaus Copernicus's "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"
    Copernicus based his astonishing findings off of the philosophy of Aristotle which stated that the best explanations were the best ones. Using that as inspiration, Copernicus wrote in his published work that, "At rest, in the middleof everything is the sun." This defied all of complex and elaborate explanations of planetary motion that satisfied religious thinkers.
  • Jan 1, 1579

    Philippe Duplessis-Mornay's "A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants"

    Philippe Duplessis-Mornay's "A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrants"
    Arguing against Divine Right, "A Defense of Liberty Against Tyrant" is a critical writing on the tendencies of tyrannical rulers. This piece theorized that since God has given the right to rulers to govern, he has also given the right to resist to the people if the ruler violates his divine right. This piece took huge steps in circulating among the people the idea of resistence and rebellion.
  • Hans Lipperhey's Telescope

    Hans Lipperhey's Telescope
    Credited with the invention of the telescope, Hans Lipperhey created the device that visually confirmed Copernicus's theory of a heliocentric universe. Galileo Galilei used the telescope in 1610 to discover that Jupiter had four moons orbiting it. in 1633 Galileo published "A Dialogue Between the Two Great Systems of the World," expressing the idea that the earth moves.
  • Johannes Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion

    Johannes Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion
    As a student of Tycho Brahe, Kepler compiled many large lists of mathematical tables of planetary motions. From these lists, Kepler was able to formulate three laws of planetary motion. He discovered that planets orbited the sun in elliptical paths rather than circular ones. Kepler's findings supported the view that the galaxy was heliocentric and was subject to physical laws.
  • "I Think, Therefore I Am"

    "I Think, Therefore I Am"
    René Descartes's "Discourse on Method" took a competely new approach to produce certainty. By rejecting everything, Descarte was left with only doubt. But what as doubt, if not thought. The only thing he could be certain of then, is that he had a mind. From this, he also deduced that the idea of a perfect being (God) existed because the idea of perfectability he had within him.
  • Robert Boyle's "The Sceptical Chymist"

    Robert Boyle's "The Sceptical Chymist"
    Boyle rejected the Aristotelian view of the basis components of the natural world (four humors/three principles). Instead, outlined in this work was the idea of an atomic world composed of matter in all shapes and sizes. Boyle also formulated various laws on the relationship of pressure and volume of gases (Boyle's Law).
  • Sir Isaac Newtons' "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"

    Sir Isaac Newtons' "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy"
    Condsideed one of the most important scientific works ever created, this masterpiece outlined Newton's laws of motion. From the laws of motion, Newton advanced to the notion of a universal gravitation that governs all objects.
  • John Locke's "Letters Concerning Toleration"

    John Locke's "Letters Concerning Toleration"
    Locke provided a classic example of reason in his "Letters of Toleration." He stated that earthly judges cannot enforce religious standpoints, and even if they could, enforcing a religions wouldn't provide the desired effect, becuase violence cannot enstill any value in faith. He also wrote "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690 which he theorized that the human mind was born with no innate ideas in humans ("tabula rasa")
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Social Contract"

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Social Contract"
    "The Social Contract" was Rousseau's take on questioning the legitmacy and the ability of rulers. Outlined in this piece was the idea that all people gave up certain freedoms in order to receive government protection and order. This piece was significant becuase it helped inspire political reforms and was one of the most popular pieces to note the fact that governing power should come from the people.
  • James Watt's Steam Engine

    James Watt's Steam Engine
    Built off of earlier designs, James Watt created a steam engine that used 75% less coal. Watt's engine also introduced the first engine in which rotary motion was the output. As a result, factories could now be situated anywhere, not just near bodies of water.
  • Alessandro Volta's Battery

    Alessandro Volta's Battery
    in 1800, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta invented the first electric battery, made from copper and zinc. The invention of the battery has made possible the ability for electronic devices to run without constant connection to some other power source. Thousands of devices today use batteries modeled off of the electrochemical cell that Volta invented.
  • Nicéphore Niépce and the permanent photograph

    Nicéphore Niépce and the permanent photograph
    Nicéphore Niépce is credited with taking the first photograph in 1817, but his images quickly faded away. Ten years later, he took a permanent photograph by coating a pewter plate with bitumen. The bitumen hardened in areas where light struck, and dissolved in areas where light didn't strike. Photography is a vast intudstry today, greatly expanded from the early technologies of the 19th century. Photos allow us to capture precious moments and document important happenings in all facets of life.
  • George Stephenson's Modern Railroads

    George Stephenson's Modern Railroads
    Rail carriage had existed for many years, but were limited to use in mines and didn't have mechanical power. Stephenson is considered to be the father of the modern railway for his design of the modern railroad--with grooved wheels and smooth rails. This was a 180 degree reversal of the original rails, which consisted of grooved rails with smooth wheels. His design provided better traction and less wear, which was a vital improvment.
  • William George Horner's Zoetrope

    William George Horner's Zoetrope
    Horner is credited with the creation of the Zoetrope, the first device used to create motion picture. As a result, the fascination with motion pictures has branched into the vast film industry that we see today.
  • Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto"

    Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto"
    Karl Marx applied Darwin's theory on struggle to politics. Marx concluded that society was the struggle of classes over labor. Labor was useful for survival it created a division of classes--those who work and those who do not. The ideas outlined in the Communist Manifesto have had an everlasting legacy and have made many aware of the injustices of capitalism.
  • Charles Darwin and Survival of the Fittest

    Charles Darwin and Survival of the Fittest
    After years of examination and observation, Charles Darwin came to the conclusion that all life forms originated in and perpetuated themselves through struggle. The outcome of this struggle came to be called "Survival of the Fittest," where the better-adapted species survived while the others died. Darwin outlined this idea in his most famous work, "On the Origins of Species."
  • Gregor Mendel's Law of Inheritance

    Gregor Mendel's Law of Inheritance
    Derived from work with peas and flowers, Mendel deduced that when crossing two types of an organism, the result isn't a mix but rather a the result of genes that were inherent. From his experiments, Mendel concluded that genes had dominant and and recessive traits, and there are 3 combinations that in which genes can be paired (AA, Aa, aa).
  • Karl Benz's Internal Combustion Automobile

    Karl Benz's Internal Combustion Automobile
    Credited with the invention of the true automobile, Benz's patented Motorwagen used a four-cycle engine and was powered by gasoline. This launched a whole new industry across the world, resulting in rapid innovation and the vehicle technology we see today. The introduction of the automoble has had immense effects on the population, such as faster travel, more convenient cargo moving, and many other cultural achievements (Nascar).
  • Albert Einstein and the 20th Century's Best Known Equation.

    Albert Einstein and the 20th Century's Best Known Equation.
    Albert Einstein's "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" was published in 1905 and described on of the most difficult theories to history--The Theory of Relativity. From this theory, Einstein introduced the equation E=mc^2. From this, physicists have been able to calculate that tiny amounts of matter can be converted itno large amounts of energy. Einstein's work on his Theory of Relativity and the energy equeation have resulted in nuclear power and the atomic bomb.
  • Henry Ford's Assembly Line

    Henry Ford's Assembly Line
    With the rapid growth of the automobile industry, Henry Ford invented the concept of the assembly line to increase productivity. The assembly line consists of workers and tools placed in a sequential manner so that each person completes only one specific task. A movable work slide keeps the parts coming and going. The assembly line is still used today as the most efficient way to complete large scale products with little cost and little time.