The content of science, as well as the meaning of the very idea of science, has continuously evolved since the rise of modern science and before. The history of science is concerned with the paths that led to our present knowledge as well as those that were abandoned (thus overlapping with the history of ideas, history of philosophy and intellectual history). The history of science seeks to explain past beliefs—even those now considered erroneous—in their social, cultural and intellectual contexts. It also forms the foundation of the philosophy of science and the sociology of science, as well as the interdisciplinary field of science, technology, and society, and is closely related to the history of technology.
The study of science and technology includes both processes, and bodies of knowledge. Scientific processes are the ways scientists investigate and communicate about the natural world. The scientific body of knowledge includes concepts, principles, facts, laws, and theories about the way the world around us works. Technology includes the technological design process and the body of knowledge related to the study of tools and the effect of technology on society. Science is continuously growing with technology today. Thanks to technology scientists have been able to better prove their theories.
Periodization in the historiography of science is usually oriented around the Scientific Revolution that culminated in the work of Isaac Newton. In this scheme, science (or more precisely, natural philosophy) before Copernicus was pre-modern science. European and Islamic science from antiquity to the 16th century was primarily derived from the work of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers (though historians now recognize the significant influence of Chinese knowledge as well); it included alchemy, astrology, and other subjects no longer considered as scientific, as well as the precursors of the modern sciences. Science (still in the form of natural philosophy) from roughly the late 16th century until the early- to mid-19th century was early-modern science; the birth of the experimental method in the 17th and 18th centuries is often considered a central event in the history of science. The 19th century saw the professionalization and secularization of science and the creation of independent scientific disciplines; modern science can denote science since this period (in distinction to early-modern), all science since Newton (in distinction to pre-modern), or simply science as practiced now.
A watercolour by ship's artist Conrad Martens painted during the survey of Tierra del Fuego
shows the Beagle
being hailed by native Fuegians.
The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, which brought him considerable fame and respect. The title refers to the second survey expedition of the ship HMS Beagle which set out on 27 December 1831 under the command of captain Robert FitzRoy. While the expedition was originally planned to last two years, it lasted almost five—the Beagle did not return until 2 October 1836. Darwin spent most of this time exploring on land (three years and three months on land; 18 months at sea).
Darwin's account of the voyage is a vivid and exciting travel memoir as well as a detailed scientific field journal covering biology, geology and anthropology that demonstrates Darwin's keen powers of observation, written at a time when the West were still discovering and exploring much of the rest of the world. With hindsight, one can find hints of the ideas Darwin would later develop into the theory of evolution.
In this set of drawings from 1616, Galileo Galilei recorded the uneven curve of the Sun's light along the lunar surface, indicating variations in elevation. Galileo's telescope observations of the Moon and other heavenly bodies helped to convince 17th century scholars to abandon the notion of the heavens as perfect and unchanging. Before the rise of telescopic observations, the Moon was still considered by some Jesuit astronomers to be flat, with the visible spots caused by variations in density or optical phenomena. Galileo had planned a more extensive program of observations and illustrations, finding little resistance to a rough Moon, made no further lunar drawings after these.
Did you know
...that the travel narrative The Malay Archipelago, by biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, was used by the novelist Joseph Conrad as a source for his novel Lord Jim?
...that the seventeenth century philosophers René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz, along with their Empiricist contemporary Thomas Hobbes all formulated definitions of conatus, an innate inclination of a thing to continue to exist and enhance itself?
...that the history of biochemistry spans approximately 400 years, but the word "biochemistry" in the modern sense was first proposed only in 1903, by German chemist Carl Neuberg?
...that the Great Comet of 1577 was viewed by people all over Europe, including famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and the six year old Johannes Kepler?
...that the Society for Social Studies of Science (often abbreviated as 4S) is, as its website claims, "the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to understanding science and technology"?
- 1650 - Death of Christoph Scheiner, German astronomer
- 1178 - Five Canterbury monks see what was possibly the Giordano Bruno crater being formed.
- 1845 - Birth of Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran, French physician and Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1922)
- 1858 - Charles Darwin receives from Alfred Russel Wallace a paper that included nearly identical conclusions about evolution as Darwin's own, prompting Darwin to publish his theory.
- 1886 - Birth of Alexander Wetmore, American ornithologist (d. 1978)
- 1905 - Death of Per Teodor Cleve Swedish chemist (b. 1840)
- 1918 - Birth of Jerome Karle, American chemist and Nobel Prize laureate
- 1922 - Death of Jacobus Kapteyn, Dutch astronomer (b. 1851)
- 1930 - Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Franklin Institute held.
- 1932 - Birth of Dudley R. Herschbach, American chemist and Nobel Prize laureate
- 1971 - Death of Paul Karrer, Swiss chemist and Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1889)
- 1976 - Gravity Probe A, a satellite-based experiment to test Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, is launched.