Chapter 18: Scientific Revolution in Europe
Before the Scientific Revolution in Europe, not many people had a well understanding of astronomy or physics. During the late sixteenth century, continuing into the seventeenth century, scientific instruments such as the thermometer, the barometer, the air pump, and the accurate pendulum clock were invented and helped scientists tremendously. Copernicus came along with his hypotheses and tried to improve Ptolemy's idea of the geometric view of the universe. He said that the sun was the center of the universe and the planets moved around it. With the accepted idea of the heliocentric theory, society in Europe began to fall into a political and intellectual crisis. The heliocentric theory was especially hard for the Catholic church to grasp. Before Copernicus came along, the church followed the teachings of Aristotle on physics, and Ptolemy on astronomy.
Copernicus published a book in 1543 entitled, "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres." This book reinstated the heliocentric theory. Johannes Kepler was another key player in the scientific revolution. Kepler was a mathematician from Germany. He supported the Copernican theory, and was able to prove that the orbit of the planets was not in a circular motion, but an ellipse. In 1609 the scientific rebel by the name of Galileo Galilei invented the telescope. With the invention of the telescope he discovered mountains on the moon, sunspots, the satellites of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. Intimidated by the church, Galilei did not publish his support of the Copernican theory. Rene Descartes, a French philosopher-mathematician, came up with a new critical mode of deduction as it pertains to the scientific method. Descartes went on to deduce the existence of God and the reality of both the spiritual and material worlds. In his work he incorporated the first use of decimals, as well as logarithmic table, making it easier to solve difficult mathematical problems. Francis Bacon was another leader in the scientific revolution. Bacon found a system of thought that advocated the use of reason for interpreting human sensory experiences. Francis Bacon went on to publish "Novum Organum," which was a book that outlined his idea's. Isaac Newton was, in my opinion, the greatest of scientists during this time because he confirmed that the ideas of Descartes and Bacon must be combined. Newton wrote a book called "Principia." In this book, "Principia," he presented his idea of the law of gravitation, and all in a mathematical formula.
The principal players in the scientific revolution have laid the foundation for scientists and astronomers today. Because of their discoveries we can continue to pursue and understand the universe and all of its great mysteries.