Timeline of the history of scientific method
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This timeline of the history of scientific method shows an overview of the cultural inventions that have contributed to the development of the scientific method. For a detailed account, see History of the scientific method.
- c. 2000 BC — First text indexes (various cultures).
- c. 1600 BC — The Edwin Smith Papyrus, an Egyptian medical textbook, which applies: examination, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis, to disease remedies, paralleling rudimentary empirical methodology.
- c. 400 BC — In China, Mozi and the School of Names advocate using one's senses to observe the world, and develop the "three-prong method" for testing the truth or falsehood of statements.
- c. 400 BC — Democritus advocates inductive reasoning through a process of examining the causes of sensory perceptions and drawing conclusions about the outside world.
- c. 300 BC — Plato first provides a detailed definitions for idea, matter, form and appearance as abstract concepts.
- c. 320 BC — First comprehensive documents categorising and subdividing knowledge, dividing knowledge into different areas by Aristotle,(physics, poetry, zoology, logic, rhetoric, politics, and biology). Aristotle's Posterior Analytics defends the ideal of science as necessary demonstration from axioms known with certainty.
- c. 300 BC — Euclid's Elements expound geometry as a system of theorems following logically from axioms known with certainty.
- c. 200 BC — First Cataloged library (at Alexandria)
1st through 12th centuries
- 1021 — Alhazen introduces the experimental method and combines observations, experiments and rational arguments in his Book of Optics.
- c. 1025 — Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī, develops experimental methods for mineralogy and mechanics, and conducts elaborate experiments related to astronomical phenomena.
- 1027 — In The Book of Healing, Avicenna criticizes the Aristotelian method of induction, arguing that "it does not lead to the absolute, universal, and certain premises that it purports to provide", and in its place, develops examination and experimentation as a means for scientific inquiry.
13th through 17th centuries
- 1220–1235 — Robert Grosseteste, an English scholastic philosopher, theologian and the bishop of Lincoln, published his Aristotelian commentaries, which laid out the framework for the proper methods of science.
- 1265 — Roger Bacon, an English monk, inspired by the writings of Grosseteste, described a scientific method, which he based on a repeating cycle of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and the need for independent verification. He recorded the manner in which he conducted his experiments in precise detail so that others could reproduce and independently test his results.
- 1327 — Ockham's razor clearly formulated (by William of Ockham)
- 1403 — Yongle Encyclopedia, the first collaborative encyclopedia
- 1581 — Francisco Sanches uses classical skeptical arguments to show that science, in the Aristotelian sense of giving necessary reasons or causes for the behavior of nature, cannot be attained.
- 1595 — Microscope invented in the Netherlands
- 1600 — First dedicated laboratory
- 1608 — Telescope invented in the Netherlands
- 1620 — Novum Organum published, (Francis Bacon)
- 1637 — First Scientific method (René Descartes)
- 1638 — Galileo's Two New Sciences published, containing two thought experiments, namely Galileo's Leaning Tower of Pisa experiment and Galileo's ship, which are intended to disprove existing physical theories by showing that they have contradictory consequences.
- 1650 — Society of experts (the Royal Society)
- 1650 — Experimental evidence established as the arbiter of truth (the Royal Society)
- 1665 — Repeatability established (Robert Boyle)
- 1665 — Scholarly journals established
- 1675 — Peer review begun
- 1687 — Hypothesis/prediction (Isaac Newton)
18th and 19th centuries
- 1739 — David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature argues that the problem of induction is unsolvable.
- 1753 — First description of a controlled experiment using identical populations with only one variable: James Lind's research into Scurvy among sailors.
- 1812 — The formulation by Hans Christian Ørsted of the Latin-German mixed term Gedankenexperiment (lit. experiment conducted in the thoughts, or thought experiment). Although the method had been in use by philosophers since antiquity.
- 1815 — An optimal design for polynomial regression is published by Joseph Diaz Gergonne.
- 1877–1878 — Charles Sanders Peirce publishes "Illustrations of the Logic of Science", popularizing his trichotomy of Abduction, Deduction and Induction. Peirce explains randomization as a basis for statistical inference.
- 1885 — C. S. Peirce with Joseph Jastrow first describes blinded, randomized experiments, which become established in psychology.
- 1897 — Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin proposes the use of multiple hypotheses to assist in the design of experiments.
20th and 21st centuries
- 1926 — Randomized design popularized and analyzed by Ronald Fisher (following Peirce)
- 1934 — Falsifiability as a criterion for evaluating new hypotheses is popularized by Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery (following Peirce)
- 1937 — Controlled placebo trial
- 1946 — First computer simulation
- 1950 — Double blind experiment
- 1962 — Meta study of scientific method (Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
- 1964 — Strong inference proposed by John R. Platt
- 2009 — Adam - First working prototype of a "robot scientist" able to perform independent experiments to test hypotheses and interpret findings without human guidance.
- Edwin Smith papyrus, Encyclopædia Britannica
- Lloyd, G. E. R. "The development of empirical research", in his Magic, Reason and Experience: Studies in the Origin and Development of Greek Science.
- James Lind's A Treatise of the Scurvy
- Hacking, Ian (September 1988). "Telepathy: Origins of Randomization in Experimental Design". Isis 79 (3): 427–451. doi:10.1086/354775. JSTOR 234674. MR 1013489. Charles Sanders Peirce and Joseph Jastrow (1885). "On Small Differences in Sensation". Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 3: 73–83. http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Peirce/small-diffs.htm
Stephen M. Stigler (November 1992). "A Historical View of Statistical Concepts in Psychology and Educational Research". American Journal of Education 101 (1): 60–70. doi:10.1086/444032. Trudy Dehue (December 1997). "Deception, Efficiency, and Random Groups: Psychology and the Gradual Origination of the Random Group Design". Isis 88 (4): 653–673. doi:10.1086/383850. PMID 9519574.
- Plat's article is entitled Strong inference. Certain systematic methods of scientific thinking may produce much more rapid progress than others (Science, 16 October 1964, Volume 146, Number 3642, Pages 347-353.)