This Scientific Age

Throughout history, science has played an important and, often controversial, role in defining how people view themselves and their understanding of the world around them. Scientific advances do not stand alone in a vacuum. Instead they often lead to important social, political, and economic changes that shape the world and our place in it. Advances that we now take for granted; the idea that the world is round, for example; were once earth shattering ideas that were neither quickly nor easily accepted by the majority of people. In fact, many scientists became martyrs because the advances they proposed were so revolutionary as to be contrary to commonly accepted ideas at the time. The Scientific Revolution (late 16th to 18th centuries) marks an important shift in our thinking based on several scientific advances in fields like astronomy, biology, chemistry, geography, human anatomy, and physics, among others. Many important advances also occurred before the Scientific Revolution. For example, the ancient Mesopotamians identified several concepts; like the seven day week; that we still use today. Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates established medicine as a professional field distinct from others, and ancient Greek mathematicians made huge strides in geometry (Euclidian geometry and the Pythagorean Theorem, for example). However, what sets these early important advances apart from those following the Scientific Revolution is that these ancient advances were made by thinkers who considered themselves natural philosophers, recording and observing natural phenomena, rather than scientists who seek to explain and predict such phenomena based on empirical evidence and experiments that can be repeated and independently verified.

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