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European Scientific Revolution

  • Aug 14, 1543

    Vesalius and Copernicus

    Vesalius and Copernicus
    The anatomical book of Andreas Vesalius, De fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body). It was arguably the most important anatomical texts of the century, offering new illustrations based on first-hand observation and fresh dissections. In the same year appeared Copernicus' 'Heliocentric theory' in his "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). These two works launched the 'Scientific Revolution'.
  • Jan 6, 1553

    Michael Servetus

    Michael Servetus
    A man of religious conviction, Michael Servetus proposed a radical new theory concerning the pulmonary circulation of the blood, a theory motivated in part by esoteric theological concerns involving the trinity. Servetus was found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake in Geneva by the religious reformer, John Calvin.
  • Oct 10, 1573

    "Tycho's Star"

    "Tycho's Star"
    The 'Star of 1572' witnessed a dramatic supernova, the talk of Europe. Tycho published "De nova Stella" in the following year, 1573. The star blazed for 18 months as brightly as -4 magnitude. Its key importance, by tradition and as Tycho and others argued, was that the New Star was clearly located beyond the sphere of the Moon. This went against the Scholastic belief, adapted from Aristotle, that the heavens were immutable.
  • Period: Mar 17, 1576 to

    Heliocentric Theory?

    In this year construction began on the observatory made famous by Tycho Brahe's (1541-1601), Uraniborg, the "Fortress of the Heavens," on the Danish island of Hven. Here, Tycho made observations and collected astronomical data aided by some 48 assistants.
  • Bruno

    Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), an early Copernican, argued for the understanding of an infinite universe and a plurality of worlds. He was burned at the stake in Rome for his heretical opinions.
  • Kepler's Rectilinear Light Rays

    Kepler's Rectilinear Light Rays
    In optics, Johannes Kepler publishes his "Ad Vitellioem Paralipomena Quibus Astronomiae pars Optica Traditor" (The Optical Part of Astronomy) where he argues that light rays are rectilinear, that they diminish in intensity by the inverse square of their distance as they travel from the light source. Kepler also argues that the retina is the seat of vision, and it is there that a 'pictura' is formed, an inverted image that is somehow transmitted to the 'seat of judgment'.
  • Galileo's First Contribution

    Galileo's First Contribution
    Galileo Galilei constructs his first telescope and turns it toward the skies; his instruments begin at magnifications of approximately 3X and 10X, the most powerful achieving a magnification of 30X. (An instrument he eventually gave away as a gift.)
  • Galileo's Observations

    Galileo's Observations
    Galileo publishes his telescopic findings with subtle Copernican twists. Among his observations, Galileo argues there are innumerable stars invisible to the naked eye, mountains on the Moon and four moons circling Jupiter. Further, Galileo noted that Saturn appeared to have 'handles' (anses) and troubled over what could give rise to such an appearance; Huygens would later propose a brilliant hypothesis which served as one of the most subtle arguments for the motion of earth.
  • Logarithms

    In mathematics, John Napier (1550-1617) in his "Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descripto" (Description of the Wonderful Principle of Logarithms) establishes rules for logarithms and supplies useful tables.
  • Novum Organum

    Novum Organum
    The English attorney and advocate of the 'New Science', Francis Bacon (1561-1626) published his famous "Novum organum," which sought to establish a method based on observation and experiment in opposition to Aristotle (who wrote the 'original' Organon).
  • Principia Philosophie

    Principia Philosophie
    René Descartes' "Principles of Philosophy" supplies arguments for the Mechanical Philosophy, most notably that the Universe is filled with uniform matter and united across space and time by uniform principles of motion and hence mechanical forms (contact, impact, pressure) of causation.
  • "Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

    "Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
    Thomas Hobbes's published his classic work on political theory, "The Leviathan," which somewhat reflected notions evident in his study of natural phenomena, most notably mechanistic concepts relating to physiology and sensation. Famously, Hobbes held human life 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short'.
  • Newton's Telescopoe

    Newton's Telescopoe
    Isaac Newton builds his first reflecting telescope; the design, which includes an eyepiece and a concave mirror, is known today as 'Newtonian'.
  • Heterogeneous Light

    Heterogeneous Light
    Isaac Newton established that by means of experiment, white light was not one and pure, but rather that white light was mixed and heterogeneous: white light, against tradition, was in fact composed of a spectrum of colors (the rainbow) and each color is the result of a measurable angle of bending (refraction).
  • Ralph Cudworth

    Ralph Cudworth
    One of the "Cambridge Platonists", Ralph Cudworth, in his "True intellectual System of the Universe", strongly challenges on theological grounds the notion that the world ultimately consists inert matter -- Cudworth suggests the idea of "plastic nature."
  • Laws of Motion

    Laws of Motion
    Arguably the most seminal work of the century, Isaac Newton's "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" proposes foundational principles for what has come to known as classical mechanics; by tradition, Newton established a new set of "mental categories" now associated with the concepts of force, mass, acceleration as evidenced in three "laws of motion" and principle of universal gravitation.
  • John Locke

    John Locke
    In his "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," John Locke (a friend of Newton) argues that knowledge of the nature is probable, not certain, and is rooted in sense experience, not innate ideas.
  • Period: to

    Isaac Newton

    -Publication of Elements of "Physical and Geometrical Astronomy" (anon preface by Newton)
    -Isaac Newton publishes the first edition of his "Opticks"
    -April 16, 1705, Newton is Knighted by Queen Anne in Cambridge, thereafter, he is known as Sir Isaac Newton.
    -Newton publishes second English edition of "Opticks" with eight queries
    -After his health fails March 18, 1727, Newton's "Observations Upon the Prophecies" is published in London; some eleven printings follow.