Scietific revolution

Science, Medicine, and Technology of the 17th Century

  • Jan 1, 1414

    Rediscovery of Vitruvius's 'De architectura'

    Rediscovery of Vitruvius's 'De architectura'
    Vitruvius's book on architecutre, probably written around 15 BC, is the only surviving source of classical architecture from its time. It inspired many Renaissance thinkers, including Leonardo da Vinci, and its rediscovery inspired the work of other architects like Alberti and Brunelleschi. Architecture was important because it created a closer proximity between workshop trained artisans and university trained humanists.
  • Jan 1, 1448

    Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press

    Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press
    The invention of movable type and the printing press enabled books to be copied much faster and sold for much cheaper than if the books were copied by hand. It also allowed for the replication of pictures and diagrams. The printing press led to mass production and the spread of printed books, and in turn, the circulation of information and ideas.
  • Oct 12, 1492

    Columbus Discovers the New World

    Columbus Discovers the New World
    When Christopher Columbus departed from Spain in 1492, he was searching for a western route to the East Indies. Instead, he found the 'New World'. This discovery launched a period of European exploration and colonization. It also resulted in an information overload and many new areas of study for European scientists.
  • Jan 1, 1531

    Agrippa Publishes 'Three Books Concerning Occult Philosophy'

    Agrippa Publishes 'Three Books Concerning Occult Philosophy'
    During this time, people believed that the universe affected each individual and each individual affected the universe; there was a relationship between all things. Cornelius Agrippa's books on occultism outline astrology, the four elements, and numbers and their relationships and influences on one another. Occultism was a central aspect of the old science that sought to answer the question of why things happen, and it preceded the new science which aimed to explain how things happen.
  • Jan 1, 1543

    Copernicus Publishes his Heliocentric Model of the Universe

    Copernicus Publishes his Heliocentric Model of the Universe
    Nicolaus Copernicus was the first to present a full discussion of the heliocentric model in which the sun was placed at the center of the universe. This model contradicted the existing geocentric model that placed the Earth at the center of the universe. Copernicanism is later defended by Kepler and Galileo, but causes many conflicts with the Catholic church based on contradictions within the Scripture.
  • Jan 1, 1543

    Vesalius Publishes 'On the Fabric of the Human Body'

    Vesalius Publishes 'On the Fabric of the Human Body'
    Andreas Vesalius is often considered the founder of modern human anatomy. He used stolen corpses (of executed criminals) to do dissections and corrected many errors in the understanding of the body.
  • Nov 28, 1563

    de Orta Publishes 'Conversations on the Simples, Drugs and Medicinal Substances of India'

    de Orta Publishes 'Conversations on the Simples, Drugs and Medicinal Substances of India'
    Garcia de Orta was a pioneer of tropical medicine, and recieving remedies from abroad was a common practice throughout the 17th century. Some imported substances included tobacco, chocolate, sugar, opium, guiac, china root, sasparilla plant, and cinchona.
  • Galileo Begins Studying the Pendulum

    Galileo Begins Studying the Pendulum
    Galileo discovered that the period of the pendulum does not depend on the width or height of the swing. This discovery allowed for the invention of the pendulum clock in 1656 by Christiaan Huygens. Clocks were extremely useful in helping to organize daily life. Experimenters began searching for mechanical precision, standardization, and accuracy in these instruments. The invention of watches and grandfather clocks followed shortly after.
  • Galileo Invents the Military Compass

    Galileo Invents the Military Compass
    Gun powder and cannons were invented in 1324, and the 17th century saw another wave of military improvement. Along with the developement of bastions, Galileo's military compass was one of the most important military advancements of the time. It could be used for gun positioning, troop formations, currency conversions; it was a universal device. Military technology meant military power.
  • Kepler Publishes his First Two Laws of Planetary Motion

    Kepler Publishes his First Two Laws of Planetary Motion
    Johannes Kepler's laws were published in his 'Astronomia Nova', The work provided strong arugments for heliocentrism. He found that the planets moved in elliptical orbits with the sun at the center, and that the speed of a planet varies depending on its distance from the sun. His third law of planetary motion was published ten years later in 'Harmonices Mundi'.
  • Bacon Publishes 'Novum Organum'

    Bacon Publishes 'Novum Organum'
    The Baconian method was introduced in Francis Bacon's 'Novum Organum' and was an early form of the scientific method still being used today. He called for a planned procedure of investigation that involved collecting data to arrive at a conclusion. The new method marked a turn towards modern science.
  • Harvey Publishes 'On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals'

    Harvey Publishes 'On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals'
    Before Harvey, people believed that blood was continuously being formed from newly digested food. By calculating the number of heartbeats in a day, he showed that the amount of blood pumped was much more than the body could produce. He also discovered that valves in the heart only allow blood to flow in one direction and compares the beating of a heart to a pump. He was the first to explain how blood is pumped throughout the body by the heart, and then returns to the heart and recirculates.
  • Galileo's Condemnation

    Galileo's Condemnation
    Galileo Galilei was accused of heresy and sentenced to prison for his support of Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the universe. Galileo's condemnation was important because it showed an effort to improve the sciences and expand people's knowledge of the universe whether the advances were initailly accepted or not. It wasn’t until 350 years later that the Catholic Church finally made a formal statement admitting that Galileo’s views on the solar system were correct.
  • Invention of Forceps

    Invention of Forceps
    The forceps were invented by the Chamberlen family and allowed for the extraction of a living child during childbirth. They could be used as an alternative to a Cesarean section and would ultimately save both the mother and the child. Forceps greatly reduced the risk of mortality during childbirth, and were actually kept a secret by the family becuase they were such a medical breakthrough. It wasn't until about 150 years after their invention that they were finally sold.
  • Descartes Publishes 'Discourse on the Method'

    Descartes Publishes 'Discourse on the Method'
    René Descartes is most well know for the philosophical statement 'Cogito ergo sum' published in his 'Discourse on the Method'. Meaning 'I think therefore I am', this form of dualism suggests that the mind controls the body, but that the body can also influence the mind. This set the stage for the mind-body problem disccusions that followed throughout the rest of the 17th century.
  • Pascal Invents the Mechanical Calculator

    Pascal Invents the Mechanical Calculator
    Pascal's calculator was the only working mechanical calculator in the 17th century. It prompted the developement other mechanical calulators in Europe, including Leibniz's adding machine.
  • Torricelli Invents the Barometer

    Torricelli Invents the Barometer
    Evangelista Toricelli's invention allowed for Pascal's barometric experiment in 1646. He concluded that when placing a tube filled with mercury upside down in a bowl of mercury, there was indeed a vacuum above the column of liquid rather than invisible matter, which was the common belief at the time. While the discovery of the vacuum was important, it is more important that Pascal was DOING experiments and moving science towards a more hands on approach.
  • Coffehouses Appear in Europe

    Coffehouses Appear in Europe
    As coffee and caffeine in Europe were growing in popularity, coffeehouses became places for men to gather and discuss political and business issues. They were a substitute for bars and initiated a shift from drunk and irrational converstions to sober and rational discussions.
  • Rise of Midwifery throughout the 17th century

    Rise of Midwifery throughout the 17th century
    Midwives were women in the community who would assist other women during childbirth. It was customary to choose women who had gone through the process of childbirth themselves, and they were usually a close friend or neighbor of the pregnant woman. Midwifery was another way for women to be involved in medicine, besides creating recipe books of remedies. However, over the course of the 17th century, you start to see men getting involved as midwives as well.
  • Foundation of the Royal Society

    Foundation of the Royal Society
    The Royal Society began as meetings of natural philosophers and physicans who met at various locations including Gresham College. It was granted a Royal Charter from the King in 1660 and became the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. Over the years, fellows included Bacon, Hooke, Oldenburg, Boyle, Newton, and many more.
  • Boyle Publishes Law of Ideal Gas

    Boyle Publishes Law of Ideal Gas
    Robert Boyle's law states that the pressure of gas tends to decrease as the volume of the gas increase; they are inversely proportional. He is considered one of the founders of modern chemistry.
  • Invention of Calculus

    Invention of Calculus
    It was often disputed who the first to invent calculus was. Newton began work on his version of calculus in 1665 and Leibniz conceived the essentials of his version in 1675. Leibniz published his version in 1684, and Newton published his 3 years later in his 'Principia Mathematica'. Even though Leibniz published calculus first, credit is often given to Newton, or joint credit is given.
  • Hooke Discovers the Cell

    Hooke Discovers the Cell
    Robert Hooke's description of a cell was published in his 'Micrographia', and he is given credit for discovering the building blocks of all life.
  • First Issue of 'Philosophical Transactions' Published

    First Issue of 'Philosophical Transactions' Published
    The 'Philosophical Transactions' of the Royal Society was the first peer reviewed scientific journal to be published. Oldenburg's notes on the meetings allowed outsiders to learn about what was being discussed by the Royal Society and contributed to the spread of information and knowledge.
  • Shipbuilding Arms Race throughout the 1670s

    Shipbuilding Arms Race throughout the 1670s
    Whereas earlier in the century military improvement was a source of power, later in the century shipbuilding was a source of power. Ship designs were constantly being improved. Dutch ships were the most advanced and other countries began using Dutch contractors to build their ships. Engineers in the shipping industry were really important as they applied new mathematics to their designs. No huge changes were being made, but modifications and incremental improvements made a big difference.
  • Leeuwenhoek Refines the Microscope

    Leeuwenhoek Refines the Microscope
    After fashioning nearly 500 models of the microscope, Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovers blood cells, microorganisms, bacteria, and also spermatoza when he later uses it to study generation. The microscope is important because it allows scientists to look for physical evidence to support or refute ideas.
  • Spinoza Completes work on Ethics

    Spinoza Completes work on Ethics
    Baruch Spinoza was one of the leading rationalists of the 17th century. In his philosophical treatise 'Ethics', he opposes Descartes's mind-body dualism. He also discusses the relationship between God and the universe, the structure of reality, and human passions.
  • Newton Publishes the 'Principia'

    Newton Publishes the 'Principia'
    The 'Principia' introduced Isaac Newton's laws of motion and universal gravitation. These laws are the basics of classical physics and completely changed the course of science. Newton is considered the most important person in the establishment of modern science and is said to have launched science into the world of modern physics and left behind the occult studies of the old science.
  • Locke Publishes 'An Essay Concerning Human Understanding'

    Locke Publishes 'An Essay Concerning Human Understanding'
    John Locke was one of the first British empiricists, following Francis Bacon. He believed that the mind was formed by experiences, and his theory of mind is often considered the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self.
  • Invention of the Mechanical Seed Drill

    Invention of the Mechanical Seed Drill
    The seed drill is a device that precisely plants seeds in the soil and then covers them, a task that was done by hand up until this point. As part of the agricultural revolution, it increased productivity and output and contributed to an increase in population growth. The horse drawn hull for weeding was another important invention of the agricultural revolution.