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Portal:History of science

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The History of Science Portal

The history of science is the study of the development of science and scientific knowledge, including both the natural and social sciences. (The history of the arts and humanities is termed history of scholarship.) Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real world phenomena. Historiography of science, in contrast, studies the methods employed by historians of science.

The English word scientist is relatively recent—first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century. Previously, investigators of nature called themselves "natural philosophers". While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example by Thales and Aristotle), and scientific method has been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham and Roger Bacon), modern science began to develop in the early modern period, and in particular in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those earlier inquiries.

From the 18th century through late 20th century, the history of science, especially of the physical and biological sciences, was often presented as a progressive accumulation of knowledge, in which true theories replaced false beliefs. Some more recent historical interpretations, such as those of Thomas Kuhn, tend to portray the history of science in terms of competing paradigms or conceptual systems in a wider matrix of intellectual, cultural, economic and political trends. These interpretations, however, have met with opposition for they also portray history of science as an incoherent system of incommensurable paradigms, not leading to any scientific progress, but only to the illusion of progress.

Selected article

Deutsche Physik (literally: "German Physics") or Aryan Physics was the name given to a reactionary movement in the German physics community in the early 1930s against the work of Albert Einstein, labeled Jewish Physics. The term was taken from the title of a 4-volume physics textbook by Philipp Lenard in the 1930s.

The movement itself began as an extension of a German nationalist movement in the physics community which went back as far as World War I. A number of German physicists, including Wilhelm Wien and the especially passionate Philipp Lenard had then signed a number of "declarations" that there was a need to remove a perceived unfair amount of British influence from physics (such as the renaming of German-discovered phenomena with perceived English-derived names, such as "X-ray" instead of "Röntgen ray"), and a declaration of the national character of science as a method of emphasising local differences in theory and practice.

When the Nazis entered the political scene, Lenard quickly attempted to ally himself with them, joining the party long before it was fashionable to do so. With another Nobel Prize in Physics laureate, Johannes Stark, Lenard began a core campaign to label Einstein's Relativity as Jewish Physics, decrying it as overly abstract, out of touch with reality, closely linked to moral relativism, and practiced exclusively by Jews and Jewish sympathisers.

Selected image

Muybridge horse jumping.jpg

This famous sequence of photographs, depicting a horse in motion, was created by Eadweard Muybridge in 1904. His technique involved multiple cameras, linked by an electrical trigger, to capture many images in rapid succession. Muybridge demonstrated this and many other sets of motion photographs to the public using his zoopraxiscope, a precursor of motion pictures.

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.


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"?


Selected anniversaries

December 10:

Related portals


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.

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:






Learning resources



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