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. 1600 BC — The Edwin Smith Papyrus, an Egyptian surgical textbook, which applies: examination, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis, to injuries,[1] paralleling rudimentary empirical methodology.[2]
  • 624 - 548 Thales raised the study of nature from the realm of the mythical to the level of empirical study.[3]
  • 610 - 547 Anaximander extends the idea of "law" to the physical world and uses maps and models.[3]
  • 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. 400 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. Aristotle believes that the world is real and that we can learn the truth by experience.[4] Latin:experimentum
  • c. 341-270 Epicurus scientific method with multiple variables.[4]
  • c. 300 BC — Euclid's Elements expound geometry as a system of theorems following logically from axioms known with certainty.
  • c. 240 BC — Eratosthenes best known for being the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth, which he did by applying a measuring system using stadia, which was a standard unit of measure during that time period. His calculation was remarkably accurate.
  • c. 200 BC — First Cataloged library (at Alexandria)
  • c. 150 BC — The Book of Daniel describes a clinical trial proposed by Daniel in which he and his three companions eat vegetables and water for 10 days rather than the royal food and wine.

1st through 12th centuries[edit]

13th through 17th centuries[edit]

18th and 19th centuries[edit]

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edwin Smith papyrus, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Lloyd, G. E. R. "The development of empirical research", in his Magic, Reason and Experience: Studies in the Origin and Development of Greek Science.
  3. ^ a b Magill, Frank N. (2003-12-16). The Ancient World: Dictionary of World Biography. Routledge. ISBN 9781135457396. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b Gauch, Hugh G. (2003). Scientific Method in Practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521017084. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  5. ^ Barker, Andrew (2000). Scientific Method in Ptolemy's Harmonics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521553728. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  6. ^ Ireland, Maynooth James McEvoy Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy National University of (2000-08-31). Robert Grosseteste. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195354171. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  7. ^ Clegg, Brian (2013-08-29). Roger Bacon: The First Scientist. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9781472112125. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  8. ^ James Lind's A Treatise of the Scurvy
  9. ^ Hacking, Ian (September 1988). "Telepathy: Origins of Randomization in Experimental Design". Isis. 79 (3: A Special Issue on Artifact and Experiment): 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.
  10. ^ 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.)