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The Birth Of Modern Science

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Up until the late seventeenth-century, the development of science was plagued by stagnation. Every human was living in constant fear, and had no hope. The Clockwork Universe delves into what brought humans out of this lapse of dread and the events that followed which would change science and math forever.

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Prior to the late 1600’s, humans battled fire, plagues, and death. They all believed that these were acts of an angry God. They thought that to study the universe and try an unlock its secrets would mean defying God, and they feared what God would do to them. “The seventeenth century was God fearing in the most literal sense. Natural disasters were divine messages, warnings to sinful mankind to change its ways lest an angry and impatient God still unleash further rounds of punishment”. These ideas greatly impeded the development of science simply because everybody was afraid to do anything.

That idea quickly changed though. Scientists of the seventeenth century began to believe that understanding the universe was not defying God, but more glorifying his name. They wanted to understand “God the Mathematician”. “The primary mission that seventeenth-century science set itself was to find His laws”.

Soon, the Royal Society was chartered, and science experimentation increased tenfold. All the great minds of England gathered to discuss and present ideas. One of the reasons that ideas and experiments spawned so quickly was the fact that scientists began to share ideas rather than keep them to themselves, and because they threw ideas onto the table without care. “Science today is a grand and formal enterprise, but the modern age of science began as a free-for-all”

This “free-for-all” allowed experiments to be performed speedily and ideas to be thought of at a never before seen pace.

One of the first ideas that really challenged the world’s view came from a Polish scientist named Nicolaus Copernicus. He was the first person to propose the idea of heliocentrism, that the earth orbited the sun, not the other way around. This idea is what sparked the age of scientific development and caused people to question old doctrines. “But Copernicus’s new doctrine inspired fear as well as ridicule and confusion, because it led almost at once to questions that transcended science”.

Persistence played a key role in the development of modern science. A lot of the experiments that were performed and the calculations that followed required persistence. Johannes Kepler was a prime example of this persistence. In trying to find a pattern in the ways that the planets orbit the sun, he spent years testing his theories, hoping to find a way. He eventually did after many years.

One thing that had made scientists weary was motion. Nobody dared tried to study objects in motion, because they lacked the key that would truly allow them to understand it, which is calculus. “In essence, calculus would be a mathematical microscope, a tool that let you pin motion down and scrutinize it tip to toe”. One of the first people to study motion was Galileo. He found that objects travel in a parabola through the air, equal on its ascent and descent. Galileo also studied objects rolling down a ramp to see how far a ball rolled after a certain amount of time. Along with motion, Galileo looked into infinity and believed he had a working definition. Galileo always fell short of truly unlocking the mysteries of motion because

he didn’t have calculus, but he did help shape mathematics in a way that would later help Newton. “This was not quite calculus, but a giant step toward it”.

Decades after Galileo, Isaac Newton would come on to the scene. He did many different studies in the world of mathematics, but his most important work would be the invention of calculus. Alongside Newton, Gottfried Leibniz worked on discovering calculus as well. They were both unaware of each other’s work. Newton would beat Leibniz to the discovery, but Leibniz published his work first. It didn’t matter though, Newton got most of the glory for the discovery. Newton was more popular, and treated like a god, while Leibniz was not. “Leibniz was too human, and Newton seemed scarcely human at all”.

The discovery of calculus was one of the greatest things to happen in mathematics in a very long time. It allowed scientists to truly understand how the universe works and why it behaves like it does. Answers that had eluded scientists for centuries were now easier to find than ever. “Calculus was ‘the philosopher’s stone that changed everything it touched to gold,’ one historian wrote. ‘Difficulties that would have baffled Archimedes were easily overcome by men not worthy to strew the sand in which he traced his diagrams’”.

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  • Category: Science
  • Subcategory: Math
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 777
  • Published: 06/26/19
  • Downloads: 22
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