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.
The history of biology traces man's understanding of the living world from the earliest recorded history to modern times. Though the concept of biology as a single coherent field of knowledge only arose in the 19th century, the biological sciences emerged from traditions of medicine and natural history reaching back to the ancient Greeks (particularly Galen and Aristotle, respectively).
During the Renaissance and Age of Discovery, renewed interest in empiricism as well as the rapidly increasing number of known organisms led to significant developments in biological thought; Vesalius inaugurated the rise of experimentation and careful observation in physiology, and a series of naturalists culminating with Linnaeus and Buffon began to create a conceptual framework for analyzing the diversity of life and the fossil record, as well as the development and behavior of plants and animals. The growing importance of natural theology—partly a response to the rise of mechanical philosophy—was also an important impetus for the growth of natural history (though it also further entrenched the argument from design).
In the 18th century many fields of science—including botany, zoology, and geology—began to professionalize, forming the precursors of scientific disciplines in the modern sense (though the process would not be complete until the late 1800s). Lavoisier and other physical scientists began to connect the animate and inanimate worlds through the techniques and theory of physics and chemistry. Into the 19th century, explorer-naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt tried to elucidate the interactions between organisms and their environment, and the ways these relationships depend on geography—creating the foundations for biogeography, ecology and ethology. Many naturalists began to reject essentialism and seriously consider the possibilities of extinction and the mutability of species. These developments, as well as the results of new fields such as embryology and paleontology, were synthesized in Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The end of the 19th century saw debates over spontaneous generation and the rise of the germ theory of disease and the fields of cytology, bacteriology and physiological chemistry, though the problem of inheritance was still a mystery.
An anthropometric device (side view) by Major A.J.N. Tremearne designed "for measuring the living head" for "the use of anthropologists", invented in 1913 with later additions made at the suggestion of A. Keith and Karl Pearson.
...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"?
- 1915 - Pluto is photographed for the first time but is not recognized as a planet
- 2008 - GRB 080319B: A cosmic burst that is the farthest object visible to the naked eye was briefly observed on this day