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Portal:History of science

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The History of Science Portal

Astrolabe-Persian-18C.jpg
An 18th-century Persian astrolabe

The content of science, as well as the meaning of the very idea of science, has continually 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.

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Selected article

Illustration from Nicholas Steno's 1667 paper of a Shark head with a tooth and a fossil tooth

The history of paleontology has been an ongoing effort to understand the history of life on Earth by understanding the fossil record left behind by living organisms. Inevitably it has been closely tied to geology and the effort to understand the history of the Earth itself. In the 17th and 18th centuries there was progress made in understanding the nature of fossils and the at the end of the 18th century the work of Georges Cuvier lead to the emergence of paleontology, in association with comparative anatomy, as a scientific discipline. The expanding knowledge of the fossil record also played an increasing role in the development of geology, particularly stratigraphy. The first half of the 19th century saw a rapid increase in knowledge about the past history of life on Earth and the progress towards definition of the geologic time scale. After Charles Darwin published the Origin of Species in 1859, much of the focus of paleontology shifted to understanding evolutionary paths, including human evolution, and evolutionary theory. The last half of the 20th century saw a renewal of interest in mass extinctions and their role in history of life on Earth.

As early as the 6th century BC Xenophanes of Colophon recognized that some fossil shells were remains of shellfish and indicated that what was now dry land was once under the sea. It is also well known that in one of his unpublished notebooks Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) concluded that some fossil sea shells were the remains of shellfish. However in both cases it is clear that the fossils were relatively complete remains of mollusk species that very closely resembled living species and thus were relatively easy to classify.

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Selected picture

Haeckel Actiniae.jpg

A lithograph from the 1904 edition of Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature), depicting a variety of sea anemones.

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Selected inventor

Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush (March 11, 1890 – June 30, 1974) was an American engineer and science administrator, known for his work on analog computing, his political role in the development of the atomic bomb, and the idea of the memex—seen as a pioneering concept for the World Wide Web. A leading figure in the development of the military-industrial complex and the military funding of science in the United States, Bush was a prominent policymaker and public intellectual ("the patron saint of American science") during World War II and the ensuing Cold War. Through his public career, Bush was a proponent of democratic technocracy and of the centrality of technological innovation and entrepreneurship for both economic and geopolitical security.

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Topics

Overview In early cultures | In classical antiquity |In the Middle Ages | In the Renaissance | The Scientific Revolution | Scientific method | Modern science
Historiography Historians | Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK) | Science Studies | Science and Technology Studies
Physics Natural philosophy | Astronomy | Aristotelian physics | Optics | Electricity | Classical mechanics | Timeline of thermodynamics | Special relativity | General relativity | Quantum field theory | Materials science
Biology Natural history | Ecology | Biochemistry | Genetics | Molecular biology | Evolutionary biology | Model organisms | Great chain of being
Chemistry Alchemy | Atomism | Chemical revolution | Atomic theory | Electrochemistry | Periodic system
Earth science Geology | Geography | Paleontology | Age of the Earth | Volcanology
Technology Ancient Rome | Middle Ages | Industrial Revolution | Second Industrial Revolution | Agricultural science | Computer science | Biotechnology
Medicine Prehistoric medicine | Ancient Egypt | Ancient Greece | India | China | Middle Ages | Islam | Anatomy | Germ theory | Wound care
Scientific culture Royal Society | Académie des Sciences | Nobel Prize | National Academy of Sciences | Scientific publication | Science wars | Women in science | Romanticism in science
Funding of science Patronage | Science policy | Military funding of science | Research and development
Science and religion Relationship between religion and science | Conflict thesis | Merton thesis | Galileo affair | Scopes Trial | Islamic science | Creation–evolution controversy
Big Science Manhattan Project | Soviet nuclear program | Military–industrial complex | Human Genome Project | Space program | High-energy physics
Related fields Philosophy of Science | History of Mathematics | History of Ideas | History of Medicine | History of Technology
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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"?


...Archive

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Selected anniversaries


August 19:
  • 1662 - Death of Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher (b. 1623)
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Related portals

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Categories

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Things you can do

Help out by participating in the History of Science Wikiproject (which also coordinates the histories of medicine, technology and philosophy of science) or join the discussion.

Open task for the history of science

History of Science collaboration of the month: Wikipedia:WikiProject History of Science/Collaboration of the Month/current

Science collaboration of the month:

→ Here are some Open Tasks :

Searchtool.svg The History of Science Collaboration is On the Origin of Species.
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