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Category: 03. 2/21 Scientific Revolution (Page 1 of 2)

Are We Living in a Second Scientific Revolution?

Living in the 16th century was by no means something we 21st-century citizens would gladly agree to. Of course there are still people living in bad conditions in modern times, however, on average we’re much better off. A majority of people in first world countries have much fewer worries regarding basic needs than a 16th-century citizen did. This is why we are able to focus more on the things that may not be immediately necessary for our survival, but make our lives that much more comfortable in the long run. Continue reading

Aristotle: History and Relevancy

Aristotle continues to remain relevant in the realms of science. Throughout the work The Scientific Revolution, Steven Shapin elaborates the vast changes that galvanized seventeenth-century society; he discusses how new scientific ideas and findings of the times shifted common thought from Aristotelian logic to more substantive, explicit reasoning. Many of the scholars who propelled such changes, however, underwent a great deal of criticism and resistance when initially sharing their ideas. The beliefs of the renowned philosopher Aristotle were highly prominent for centuries, and all of sudden these ideas were being uprooted by new, unknown scholars. On the other hand, these new ideas were eventually accepted as common truths, thus decreasing science’s reliance on philosophy. Conversely, as the notion of science is an inherently human endeavor, certain aspects of philosophy, namely those of Aristotle, are still implemented into today’s scientific practices. Continue reading

What If We’re Wrong?

Jack MacPhee




The Scientific Revolution: a period of time in which nearly everything people in Europe thought they knew about the natural world was called into question. Some of humanity’s most brilliant minds began voicing their once silenced findings and revelations to the outside world. Sir Isaac Newton brought to the surface new physics concepts of light, motion, and most famously, gravity. The idea of Aristotelian Cosmology was ripped apart by Copernicus and Galileo. Ideas once considered scientific fact at the time were slowly being debunked one by one until the field of science was not even recognizable anymore. Reading about this incredibly important era in human history got me thinking: what if another event like this were to happen today? What might the history of science look like in the distant future?

Nowadays, we have rigorous scientific methods that allow us to say with certainty that some things simply are true. We like to think we have a good grasp on how to prove something is factual.  But what if we don’t? We know that we do not have an answer for everything, as was the case before, during and after the Scientific Revolution.  There are some things that even today’s science just cannot explain, like how the placebo effect works, or what dark matter is. Instead of forcing some ridiculous substitute  explanation for a lack of a scientifically based one, we now know to continue digging deeper into these mysteries and finding the “true” answer. But what if one of our current geniuses were to stumble upon something equally as revolutionary as what Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton discovered in their day? Is this even possible? If something like this were to occur, it would obviously be devastating in a number of ways. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like if nearly everything we’ve been teaching in schools and working on in the field of science turned out to be false. If someone came along and told scientists they’ve been looking in the wrong places for answers the whole time, I think it would be one of the worst things to happen to society in a long time due to the hundreds of years of progress that would be instantly taken away.

Obviously an event like this one is pretty much impossible with how much extensive research we put into all areas of science today. Scientists today don’t just double check, they devote their lives to making sure something is true every single time. Nonetheless, toying with the idea of letting the events of the original scientific revolution unfold in today’s setting is extremely unsettling. I can’t imagine being around in the 15th and 16th centuries when scientists like Copernicus and Galileo were telling me everything I knew was a lie. Neil DeGrasse Tyson once gave a lecture in which he explained the fact that there is only a 1% difference in DNA between humans and other primates like chimpanzees. He went on to detail that within that 1%, we are so vastly more sophisticated that we can create cities and teach calculus and all these other amazing things. he then proposed a deeply disturbing thought to the audience: What if there existed a creature who was 1% different from humans the way we are from chimpanzees? We would seem completely unintelligent to them. The simplest of their ideas would be the most complex of ours They would be able to explain the things that we cannot even with our cutting-edge technology. Though it is a thought and only a thought, if they were to exist, we could be proven wrong about everything.

Hundred years from now, how will we in the future look at ourselves at the moment?

My definition of science is the observation, discovery and formulating formulas of natural phenomena. Although it is a field relating to facts, not merely abstract philosophical thinking, science cannot stand the test of time. This is mainly because, as time goes on, we observe and discover new things, which either slightly or fundamentally change our perception and understanding of a previously presumably known phenomenon. With the development of scientific knowledge, how will people in the future look back at us?

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Are we living in a second scientific revolution?

What is a revolution?  A radical, violent change. An overthrow of government. A fundamental change to the scientific understanding of the world. And also, arguably, an irreversible change to the physical nature of the world itself.

“The” scientific revolution, was indeed a dramatic change in reasoning that substantially changed human understanding of how the world works. Nicolaus Copernicus’s theory of heliocentrism introduced in 1543, which states that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was at the center of the solar system, dramatically altered the scientific perspective of how we view our world. This revolutionary view was further augmented by the development of Newton’s theories of light, motion, and gravity. And between these two great names, there were many more small discoveries that contributed to this transformation of our understanding of the world, and also the universe. These advances were able to occur because of new inventions and the improvement of technology. For example, Galileo’s invention of the telescope was crucial to the development of Copernicus’s heliocentric theory, as the theory was based off of observations made using the telescope. The creation of the microscope, also by Galileo, allowed for many advances in medicine and biology to occur.

If this radical change in our understanding of the world was considered “the” scientific revolution, shouldn’t a rapid development of human caused changes to our planet, also resulting from the development of technology, be considered a scientific revolution as well? These changes that are occurring comprise of the rapid development of industry and technology which is fueling climate change. This radical alteration is completely unprecedented, unlike anything that has occurred before in human history. Since 1950, there has been a dramatic increase in a number of complexly related factors, such as population, economic growth, fertilizer consumption and disposable plastics. These extreme changes stem from an explosion of technology, both during the industrial revolution and in a series of developments that occurred after World War II, which led to a rise in the consumption of technology, such as of motor vehicles and telephones. This modernization of our world is the beginning an entire new era of geologic time, in which humans are the primary influence on our planet’s climate and environment, known as the Anthropocene.

Maybe this second revolution doesn’t precisely follow the “textbook” definition of a scientific revolution. It isn’t necessarily a perfect fit for Thomas Kuhn’s conception of the structure of scientific revolutions, which requires the rejection of one scientific theory for another. However, the transformation occurring today still is very revolutionary in nature. Like “the” scientific revolution, it is a result of a dramatic increase in and improvement of technology. While “the” scientific revolution represented a change in the human understanding of the world, the revolution today represents a physical change in how the world works. Although a different kind of change, the alteration occurring today is arguably even more important than the first scientific revolution. And this second revolution has yet to fully develop. Humanity is only in the process of understanding the implications of our actions and what must be done in order to revitalize our planet before it is too late. Perhaps, the real revolution will be when humanity fully realizes this new state of our planet, and takes the action necessary to stop the damage.


The Scientific Devolution

The Scientific Revolution brought great technological strides, and with it many new experiences. But was all of this progress positive? Or are there underlying  setbacks? In The Scientific Revolution Steven Shapin says to “…obtain experience yourself” (Shapin 80). But he follows this advice with a set of questions: “What kind of experience?” How should so spoken experience “be attained?” and how would one “infer from experience to generalizations?” (81). Basically: What counts as experience, and why does it matter? I second his curiosity, and wonder if we are at risk of losing its value.
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The Never-ending Scientific Revolution

Carter Liou


STS 112-WA


The Scientific Revolution was a period of intense debate between science and religion.   Prior to the Scientific Revolution, a majority of the European population was uneducated, and the little schooling that was accessible was closely regulated by the Roman Catholic Church.   Their scientific teachings were heavily influenced by biblical theory and the science that had been provided by the Ancient Greeks.  For example,  the geocentric system– which was accepted by Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Ptolemy– argued that Earth was at the center of the universe and that the Sun, Moon, stars and other known planets all orbited Earth.  This way of of thinking was prevalent up until the Scientific Revolution, during which Nicolaus Copernicus developed the Copernican system that stated that the earth orbited the sun which was located at the center of the solar system.  In addition, the Bible also stated that the Sun and the Moon were perfect in form because they had been created in God’s image.  This idea was debunked by Italian philosopher Galileo who built a telescope which he used to examine sunspots and the craters of the moon.  The church, however, did not take these findings lightly as they continued to disregard the laws established by natural scientists throughout the Scientific Revolution.  

This debate continued long after such period in European history.  When Charles Darwin released his On the Origins of Species in 1859, he sparked a debate between the concepts of evolution and creationism that would carry on long after his death.  In 1925, the infamous Scopes Trial, where a highschool teacher named John T. Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in a public school in Tennessee, brought attention to the rejection of evolution and whether or not it should be taught in schools.

Today it is appropriate to say that we have entered another Scientific Revolution; however, the central debate revolves more so around science with respect to political ideals.  A primary example is the ongoing dispute over the ethics of abortion.  This debate fosters two opposing views: pro-choice which believes that the woman has the right to terminate the fetus, and pro-life which believes that the fetus has the right to be born.  Many differences stem from the abortion debate such as when the fetus should be considered living and what methods of abortion are considered humane.  

The most influential and perhaps controversial debate is the argument over climate change.  Although a minority of the U.S. population does not believe in the legitimacy of rising temperatures on the surface of the Earth, most accept this to be unequivocal, and therefore the dispute focuses more so on whether or not human activity can be held responsible for the rising amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.   The pro-side argues that the burning of fossil fuels by humans should be responsible for this increase and that a halt in the usage of fossil fuels is essential to stopping climate change.  The con-side argues that greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity are to small to affect earth’s climate and that the increase in temperature is rather due to the sun.  The argument has been further stimulated after the United States, controversially, withdrew the from the Paris Accords under the presidency of Donald Trump.   

As we undergo this modern scientific revolution it is important to remember that science will always be met with some sort of opposing force.  In this sense, the scientific revolution is not finite.  The purpose of science is to discover the new–and frankly the new may seem daunting– but without change, the human race cannot improve on the mistakes that it has made in the past.  

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