Scientific Developments During the Renaissance

Scientific Developments During the Renaissance

Historians often refer to the renaissance as a Scientific Revolution. It was during this period that Nicolas Copernicus first suggested the revolution of the Earth around the Sun. This was groundbreaking, as previous to this it was generally thought that the Earth was stationary, and all the planets, including the Sun, orbited the Earth. It was also Copernicus' theory that directly led to the discoveries of Kepler, Galileo and Newton. It could therefore be argued that Copernicus' discovery was the most important of the Renaissance. However, the huge advances in the field of astronomy often overshadow many of the developments in other scientific fields, where the scientists Vesalius, Harvey and Boyle also made an impact.

Copernicus' theory, outlined in De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium (`On the Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies,' 1543) is often cited as the greatest discovery of the renaissance. However, at the time of its publication, in the year of Copernicus' death, the theory was widely disregarded. The historian Arthur Koestler comments that `it does not seem to have generated heated discussion.' Moreover, the theory wasn't wholly invented by Copernicus; it was merely revived from ancient texts, and the publication was postponed until the year of Copernicus' death, for fear of public reaction. The astronomer Galileo comments on this:

Our teacher Copernicus, who though he will be of immortal fame to some, is yet by an infinite number (for such is the multitude of fools) laughed at and rejected.

This evidence throws a somewhat uncertainty onto whether Copernican theory is as important as previously suggested. It would appear that the hypothesis made little or ...

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... universe today. Kepler used mathematics to support and strengthen Copernican theory as well as hypothesising the laws of planetary motion. Galileo became well known, due to his findings with his telescope, whereas Copernicus' and Kepler's ideas were largely ignored. Galileo again proved Copernican theory by discovering sunspots and the infinity of the universe. I therefore suggest, in response to the question, that there was not one discovery in the renaissance that was more significant than the others, but that the work of these three scientists was equally significant, in that they provided evidence for an astronomical theory, that is still believed today. The discoveries in other fields such as medicine and chemistry were undoubtedly important, but I feel that the discoveries made by Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo were the most significant of the renaissance.

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