History of Science

History of Science:

            In prehistoric times, advice and knowledge was passed from generation to generation in an oral tradition. For example, the domestication of maize for agriculture has been dated to about 9,000 years ago in southern Mexico, before the development of writing systems. Similarly, archaeological evidence indicates the development of astronomical knowledge in preliterate societies. The development of writing enabled knowledge to be stored and communicated across generations with much greater feasibility. Many ancient civilizations collected astronomical information in a systematic manner through simple observation. Though they had no knowledge of the real physical structure of the planets and stars, many theoretical explanations were proposed. Basic facts about human physiology were known in some places, and alchemy was practiced in several civilizations. Considerable observation of macrobiotic flora and fauna was also performed. In early civilizations myth and religion mainly dominated as modes to explain the world and natural phenomenon. It was Greeks who try and develop the theory behind their observations. Greek people like Pythagoras, Aristotle and Plato excluded supernatural causes from their accounts of reality. It was the Greeks who first suggested that matter was made up of atoms (fundamental particles that could not be broken down further). But it wasn't only the Greeks who moved science on. Science was also being developed in India, China, the Middle East and South America. Despite having their own cultural view of the world, they each independently developed materials such as gunpowder, soap and paper. The Greeks were over theoretical and their science could be considered as the off shoot of philosophy. With the fall of Greece to the Romans Empire, science fell down from grace. It was almost unknown in Europe in 5th century A.D. after the fall of Romans. Islamic culture however saved Greek knowledge and transmitted it to Europe later on.  Muslim scholars were the first who introduced experimentation and observation in the field of science. During the dark ages the word was ranging with the scientific achievements of Muslim scholars like Jabber bin hayan , Ibn-e-sina etc.

            It was the 13th century in which scientific work was brought together in European universities, and that it started to look more like science as we know it today. Progress was relatively slow at first. For example, in 16th century Copernicus gave revolutionary idea about the Universe and Harvey put forward his ideas of blood circulation in the human body.

            It was in the 17th century that modern science was really born, and the world began to be examined more closely, using instruments such as the telescope, microscope, clock and barometer. It was also at this time that scientific laws started to be put forward for such phenomena as gravity and the way that the volume, pressure and temperature of a gas are related. In the 18th century much of basic biology and chemistry was developed as part of the Age of Enlightenment.

            The 19th century saw some of the great names of science, e.g.  John Dalton, developed the atomic theory of matter, Michael Faraday and James Maxwell put forward theories concerning electricity and magnetism, and Charles Darwin proposed the (still) controversial theory of evolution. Each of these developments forced scientists radically to re-examine their views of the way in which the world worked. The last century brought discoveries such as relativity and quantum mechanics, which, again, required scientists to look at things in a completely different way. It makes you wonder what the iconoclastic discoveries of this century will be.

The historical development of science can be categorized in to various eras as follows,

  1. Myth and Superstitions                                            5.  Babylonian Sciences
  2. Egyptian Sciences                                                      6.  Greek Sciences
  3. Alexandrian Sciences                                                7.  Islamic Sciences
  4. Western Sciences                                                       8.  Modern Sciences