A revolution, according to the second “simple definition” in Merriam-Webster, is a “sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.” By this definition, the Scientific Revolution is most certainly a misnomer, given its drawn out process and gradual changes. The violent revolution that one imagines in St. Petersburg in 1917 and in Paris in 1789 is not the same as the scientific advances that, though once ridiculed, now shape our world. Because of this, the Scientific Revolution should be more recognized as Merriam-Webster’s third definition: “the act of moving around something in a path that is similar to a circle.”
Science––like humanity––is always progressing, always moving. Had it not been for the milkmaids’ inadvertent exposure to cowpox, the smallpox vaccine would have never been developed. From there, the ever-revolving science was able to eradicate one of the most deadly and widely feared diseases known to humanity. Though many large changes happened in the Western science community over a relatively short period of time, the changes that occurred during the Scientific Revolution were really results of the progressive patterns that science follows.
As has been seen throughout history, human advances seem to happen around about the same time even across groups of people. The three major grains –– corn, wheat, and rice –– that have fueled populations for centuries all began to be cultivated around roughly the same period. Somewhat simultaneous technological advances in the United States and Europe transformed historically agrarian societies into factory hubs. The same idea can be applied to the Scientific Revolution. This is not to discount the discoveries made by Galileo, Copernicus, Descartes, and other white men, but to stress the constant evolution of the human mind and capabilities. When the Scientific Revolution allowed humanity to gaze at the heavens and their elliptical paths, it was also highlighting the revolving nature of human advancement.
After a political revolution, one would expect the regime to have been completely transformed. The Russian Revolution, for example, ended the centuries-old Romanov dynasty and shattered old ideologies that had both helped and hindered Russia throughout history. The Scientific Revolution, on the other hand, was a catalyst for the future of science rather than a radical and violent change. The modern scientific advances may not have been possible without the Scientific Revolution, but the process was more of a steady trajectory than a sudden drop-off in ideals and ideas.
Though the Scientific Revolution was not the earth-shattering, guillotining coup d’etat revolt that one might imagine by its name, it holds a deserved and well-recognized spot in the timeline of the revolving world of science.