The rise of modern science
- Modern science can be summed up in the three concepts:
- empiricism: the importance of reliable, quantifiable experimental data
- rationalism: a logical thought process
- scepticism: a mindset that does not accept things at face value but relies on objective data.
Greeks and Middle Ages
- Most books on history and philosophy that start with ancient greece and skip to Europe around the 13th century are Eurocentric.
- Pays little attention to inputs from other culture in the origins and development of science, particularly during the European Middle ages.
- Roger Bacon: 1214-1294 pioneered the concept of using experiments to find out about the natural world.
- William of Ockham (1285-1349) whose razor still encourages us to consider the simplest explanations first
1300 – 1600
- Renaissance Europe saw the beginnings of modern science.
- Leonardo da Vinci: 1452- 1519, great observer and innovator although debate about whether his work was really science.
- Francis Bacon (1561-1662) and Galileo (1564-1642): emphasised the importance of collecting data through observation and experimentation. Their approach much more recognised today as 'science'
- Word 'science' not coined until 19th century.
- Many pinpoint the start of what we now call modern science to the founding of the Royal Society in November 1660.
- Figure 5.2. Traditional view of the events culminating in the development of modern science. The arrows represent the pace of development. This view implies that after the flowering of philosophy, geometry and detailed observations of the Greek period, there was a lull until the European Renaissance. It ignores the important developments in mathematics taking place in the Arab world and the important technological advances in China that underpinned the later explosion.
6.2 Four ancient Chinese inventions
- During the Tang and Song dynasties, China was the world leader in technology and science (600 AD to 1500 AD).
- Four famous great Chinese inventions:
- Paper: important precursor to the development of printing and books that helped disseminate the new ideas about science throughout the world. Created first paper in the world by drying pulp made from bark, mulberry fibres, hemp- 2nd century BC.
- Printing: Diamond Sutra- oldest printed book published in 858 AD
- Magnetic compass: chinese discovered iron that could be magnetised by contact with lodestone. First compass was an iron fish pointing south, floating in bowl of water. Facilitated with later European explorations.
- Gun powder: Huge impact on flow of ideas through its effect on wars
Contribution of China to science
- Mo Tzu 470-391 BC
- Refelctive learning 'scepticism'- don't take things at face value
- Earth revolved around the sun
- Observations similar to newton's 1st law
- Emphasis on data collection rather than theory- empiricism
The language of science
- Roots of modern science usually considered to go bacl to the ancient greeks
- The Greeks: developed logic
- Made observations
- Developed mathematics- particularly geometry
- Greeks adopted the 60 base number system used in geometry from the Babylonians, who lived in the region now known as Iraq around 800 BCE.
- This system still used in navigation (degrees and minutes) and for time (hours, min, sec).
- The Romans (who came after the greeks) used a cumbersome system for writing their numbers, which made complex calculations difficult.
- 2 important breakthroughs in mathematics were:
- Development of the arabic numerals- use today
- Invention of the decimal system
Both these have their origins in India and the Middle East. The words algebra and algorithm are Arabic in Origin.
Key contribution from greek culture to modern western science
- Rationalism: logic and the culture of debate and open discussion
- Mathematics (geometry)
- Empiricism: beginnings of experimentation
- Communication: writing, compilations, discussions
- Greek contribution 300BCE
- Had a book called 'The Elements'- the wikipedia of ancient Greece. One of the first books ever translated and published after The Bible
- Remained required reading for educated people until the 20th century.
- Known for mathematics: geometry and rationalism through proofs
- Euclidian geometry
- Deductive treatment and proofs
Archimedes 280 BC
- Ancient greek
- Realised that the number pi features in the formula for the circumference and area of the circle, and volume and and area of sphere.
- Found that displacement can be used to calculate volume of object.
- Asked to find if crown was real gold:
- Knew that density of an object= mass/volume
- Density of silver < gold
- Mass of crown calculated using balance
- Calculate density of crown
- Crown not pure gold!!
Why does Prof Peter Doherty call archimedes the first scientist?
- Science tells a story
- There was a problem
- Used logic (rationalism)
- Built a model based on known info
- Made a prediction (hypothesis)
- Tested it (empiricism)
- Publicly announced the results (allegedly) by running naked through the streets shouting Eureka
Aristotle 350 BC
- Ancient Greece
- Overlapped with Euclid
- Developed rules for reasoning
- Deductive reasoning/rationalism: if premise (a) and premise (b) then conclusion (c)
- ALL men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Socrates is mortal.
- Defined truth in a way that we recognise in science: "to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true"
- Correspondence theory of truth.
- Used physical evidence:
- Showed that the earth is spherical (curved phases of moon plus curvature of sky)
- Measure size of earth
- But put earth at centre of universe
How did Greek Knowledge get 'lost'?