An Overview of the Scientific Revolution.


The Scientific Revolution was a period of great change for Europe. During the 15th - 17th centuries, European thinkers and scientists created a new view of nature, replacing the outdated view held by ancient philosophers such as Ptolemy, Socrates, and Aristotle. Scientists such as Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Cesare Beccaria.


I. Areas of Development
II. Views of the Church
III. Major Contributers to the Revolution
IV. Chronology
V. Sources

I. Areas of Development

The scientists of the Scientific Revolution made progress in many areas. Advances were made in many fields. Astronomy was the foundation of the Scientific Revolution, Copernicus was the first to challenge the commonly held and Church supported view of a Geocentric universe. Physics was revolutionized by Newton, who made great strides with his laws of motion. Chemistry was advanced from the old Aristotelian idea of four elements, earth, air, water, and fire. Many thinkers combined to develop the Scientific Method, which was used to make even more discoveries. Fundamental changes were made to the science of motion by Galileo, who developed laws of falling objects, parabolic motion, and circular inertia. More discoveries were made by Galileo on the strength of materials.

II. Views of the Church

The Roman Catholic Church held strong views during this period, many of which did not aid those seeking to add to scientific knowledge. The Church upheld the Law of Papal Infallibility, that the Pope could never be wrong. Often this lead to conflict with the scientific world, resulting in losses for science. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for a heretic when he upheld his views. During this time period of the scientific revolution the church believed in a geocentric universe, meaning they thought everything revolved around the earth.His Heliocentric views went far beyond those held by Copernicus himself, Bruno believed that the Universe was infinite, with the sun being only one of an almost infinite number of stars. Galileo himself was confined to his house after the publishing of his book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. With these and other scientists struck down by the Church, the Church proved to be more of an enemy to science rather than an ally. Therefore for a long period of time the people where afraid to speak out against the church with there beliefs and discoveries.

III. Major Contributers to the Revolution

There where many contributors to the scientific revolution. All these contributors were looking to answer some of life's questions through nature rather than religious beliefs. Among the most major contributors were Galileo, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and John Locke.Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is most known for the telescope, although he didn't invent the telescope he did make a much more efficient one. 1609 Galileo made a telescope that could magnify an object by twenty (most telescopes at this time could only magnify by three) this allowed for Galileo to look at the moon, the four satellites of Jupiter, to see a supernova, to verify the phases of Venus and also to discover sun spots. His discoveries proved the Copernican system which stated that the planets revolve around the sun. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was also a major contributer to the revolution. Isaac created the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Isaac not only used his own work but combined the work of himself, Rene Descartes, Galileo, and Johannes Kepler. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) was also one of the many contributors to the scientific revolution. Kepler created the three laws of planetary motion, which most importantly stated that the planets moved around the sun in an elliptical type motion rather than a circular motion. Francis Bacon (1561- 1626) created the scientific method, he also took notes that helped later scientists in their findings. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed that everything in nature could be explained by mathematics and science. He doubted everything in the world and started from scratch and explained everything by proving it through mathematics and science. Descartes is most known for Cogito, Ergo Sun ( I think therefore I am). The last major contributer to the Scientific Revolution was John Locke (1632-1704) who stated and believed that everyone was born with an empty slate and only learned through life experiences.

IV. Chronology

  • 1473 - Nicolas Copernicus is born.
  • 1543 - Copernicus' major work is published, On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres.
  • 1564 - Galileo Galilei is born.
  • 1600 - Giordano Bruno burned at the stake.
  • 1609 - Galileo uses and improves a telescope to observe the sky.
  • 1620 - Francis Bacon published his work Novum Organum.
  • 1627 - Kepler's publishes the most accurate astronomic tables to date, based on Brahe's observations.
  • 1632 - Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems published.
  • 1633 - Galileo called to Rome before the Inquisition, placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.
  • 1637 - Descartes Discourse on Method published.
  • 1642 - Isaac Newton born.
  • 1687 - Newton proclaims his Laws of Motion.

V. Sources

" Bruno, Giordano." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 13 Sept. 2007 <>.

"European History/Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment." 9 July 2007. 13 Sept. 2007 <>.

"Galileo." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 11 Sept. 2007 <>.

Hatch, Robert A. "The Scientific Revolution." The Scientific Revolution Homepage. 2002. University of Florida. 13 Sept. 2007 <>.

Hatch, Robert A. "Newton, Sir Isaac." Jan. 2002. University of Florida. 13 Sept. 2007 <>.

"Physical Science." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 11 Sept. 2007 <>.

"Rene Descartes." 9 Dec. 2002. 13 Sept. 2007 <>.

Wilde, Megan. "Galileo's Telescope." 12 Sept. 2007 <>.