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Portal:History of science

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The History of Science Portal

The history of science covers the development of science from ancient times to the present. It encompasses all three major branches of science: natural, social, and formal.

The earliest roots of science can be traced to Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in around 3000 to 1200 BCE. Their contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity, whereby formal attempts were made to provide explanations of events in the physical world based on natural causes. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek conceptions of the world deteriorated in Latin-speaking Western Europe during the early centuries (400 to 1000 CE) of the Middle Ages, but continued to thrive in the Greek-speaking Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire. Aided by translations of Greek texts, the Hellenistic worldview was preserved and absorbed into the Arabic-speaking Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age. The recovery and assimilation of Greek works and Islamic inquiries into Western Europe from the 10th to 13th century revived the learning of natural philosophy in the West.

Natural philosophy was transformed during the Scientific Revolution in 16th- to 17th-century Europe, as new ideas and discoveries departed from previous Greek conceptions and traditions. The New Science that emerged was more mechanistic in its worldview, more integrated with mathematics, and more reliable and open as its knowledge was based on a newly defined scientific method. More "revolutions" in subsequent centuries soon followed. The chemical revolution of the 18th century, for instance, introduced new quantitative methods and measurements for chemistry. In the 19th century, new perspectives regarding the conservation of energy, age of the Earth, and evolution came into focus. And in the 20th century, new discoveries in genetics and physics laid the foundations for new subdisciplines such as molecular biology and particle physics. Moreover, industrial and military concerns as well as the increasing complexity of new research endeavors soon ushered in the era of "big science," particularly after the Second World War. (Full article...)

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Duria Antiquior – A more Ancient Dorset is a watercolor painted in 1830 by the geologist Henry De la Beche based on fossils found by Mary Anning. The late 18th and early 19th century was a time of rapid and dramatic changes in ideas about the history of life on earth.

The history of paleontology traces the history of the effort to understand the history of life on Earth by studying the fossil record left behind by living organisms. Since it is concerned with understanding living organisms of the past, paleontology can be considered to be a field of biology, but its historical development has been closely tied to geology and the effort to understand the history of Earth itself.

In ancient times, Xenophanes (570–480 BC), Herodotus (484–425 BC), Eratosthenes (276–194 BC), and Strabo (64 BC–24 AD) wrote about fossils of marine organisms, indicating that land was once under water. The ancient Chinese considered them to be dragon bones and documented them as such. During the Middle Ages, fossils were discussed by Persian naturalist Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in Europe) in The Book of Healing (1027), which proposed a theory of petrifying fluids that Albert of Saxony would elaborate on in the 14th century. The Chinese naturalist Shen Kuo (1031–1095) would propose a theory of climate change based on evidence from petrified bamboo. (Full article...)
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Classic shot of the ENIAC.jpg

ENIAC, short for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, was the first large-scale, electronic, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems, although earlier computers had been built with some of these properties. ENIAC was designed and built to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army's Ballistics Research Laboratory. The first problems run on the ENIAC however, were related to the design of the hydrogen bomb.

This photo has been artificially darkened, obscuring details such as the women who were present and the IBM equipment in use. The original photo can be seen in the article: Rose, Allen (April 1946). "Lightning Strikes Mathematics". Popular Science: 83–86. Retrieved 15 April 2012.

Did you know

...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"?

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Compton in 1927

Arthur Holly Compton (September 10, 1892 – March 15, 1962) was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1927 for his 1923 discovery of the Compton effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation. It was a sensational discovery at the time: the wave nature of light had been well-demonstrated, but the idea that light had both wave and particle properties was not easily accepted. He is also known for his leadership over the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago during the Manhattan Project, and served as chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis from 1945 to 1953.

In 1919, Compton was awarded one of the first two National Research Council Fellowships that allowed students to study abroad. He chose to go to the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory in England, where he studied the scattering and absorption of gamma rays. Further research along these lines led to the discovery of the Compton effect. He used X-rays to investigate ferromagnetism, concluding that it was a result of the alignment of electron spins, and studied cosmic rays, discovering that they were made up principally of positively charged particles. (Full article...)
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June 27: National HIV Testing Day in United States

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