Medieval Science and Mathematics

Examining early medieval approaches to various types of knowledge we might consider today to be ‘scientific’ and early universities. Introduction The idea of science in the early Middle Ages is a broad one that encompasses many subjects. To understand this, we should think of the root of the word ‘science’, which comes from the Latin[…]

European Science in the Middle Ages

Roman and early medieval scientific texts were read and studied, contributing to the understanding of nature in the light of reason. Introduction European science in the Middle Ages comprised the study of nature, mathematics and natural philosophy in medieval Europe. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the decline in knowledge of Greek,[…]

The Uncertain Heavens: Christiaan Huygens’ Ideas of E.T. Life in the 1680s

During the 17th century, as knowledge of the Universe and its contents increased, so did speculation about life on other planets. This article, The Uncertain Heavens: Christiaan Huygens’ Ideas of Extraterrestrial Life, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: The author[…]

The Rise of Fingerprint Technology in the 19th Century and Resulting Myths

In the 19th-century, society began to grapple with an emerging problem: How do you prove people are who they say they are? By Clive ThompsonScience and Technology Journalist At 9:00 a.m. last December 14 [2018], a man in Orange County, California, discovered he’d been robbed. Someone had swiped his Volkswagen Golf, his MacBook Air and[…]

The Orkney Finnmen Legends: From Early Modern Science to Modern Myth

How early modern science’s fascination with unfamiliar objects helped a new chapter of Scottish folklore. This article, The Orkney Finnmen Legends: From Early Modern Science to Modern Myth, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: At the end of the 17th[…]

Biology in the Ancient and Medieval Eras

The earliest humans had and passed on knowledge about plants and animals to increase their chances of survival. Introduction The history of biology traces the study of the living world from ancient to modern times. Although the concept of biology as a single coherent field arose in the 19th century, the biological sciences emerged from[…]

A History of Science in Ancient Cultures

Exploring scientific work and thought in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, India, and China. Introduction The history of science in early cultures refers to the study of protoscience in ancient history, prior to the development of science in the Middle Ages. In prehistoric times, advice and knowledge was passed from generation to generation in[…]

“More Lively Counterfaits”: Experimental Imaging at the Birth of Modern Science

Exploring forms of image making which pushed the boundaries of 17th-century book printing. This article, “More Lively Counterfaits”: Experimental Imaging at the Birth of Modern Science, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: From infographics to digital renders, today’s scientists have[…]

How to Understand the Structure of CRO Companies

CRO (Contract Research Organization) companies can vary in size from global companies to small specialized groups. CRO companies offer services across all clinical trial phases and therapeutic areas including Feasibility Assessments, Ethics Committee, Regulatory Submissions, Data Management, Statistical Analysis, Medical Monitoring, Safety Services, Central Lab Services, Medical Write Ups and Project and Vendor Management. The[…]

Ancient Greek Astronomy and Cosmology

A brief tour of some of the astronomical ideas and models from ancient Greece. Introduction As the stars move across the sky each night people of the world have looked up and wondered about their place in the universe. Throughout history civilizations have developed unique systems for ordering and understanding the heavens. Babylonian and Egyptian[…]

A History of the Scientific Revolution, 1500-1700

Exploring a time when science emerged as a new way of gaining knowledge about the world. Introduction Before this time, Europeans relied on two main sources for their understanding of nature. One was the Bible and religious teachings. The other was the work of classical thinkers, especially the philosopher Aristotle. During the Scientific Revolution, scientists[…]

Innovations and Adaptations in the Medieval Islamic Renaissance

They improved ways of doing things that influenced the Scientific Revolution in Europe centuries later. Introduction In the Middle Ages, Muslim people developed a rich culture. Here are many contributions made by Muslims to world civilization. By 750 C.E., Muslims ruled Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, and much of central Asia. Over the next[…]

Discoveries and Inventions in Ancient and Medieval China

Exploring discoveries and inventions made by the Chinese between about 200 and 1400 C.E. Introduction Over the centuries, Chinese scholars and scientists studied engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine, among other subjects. Their studies led to scientific and technological progress that was often far ahead of advances in the rest of the world. To understand the[…]

Robert Hooke, 17th-Century Scientist Extraordinaire

He argued with Newton, and both were partially right. Introduction Groundbreaking discoveries in science often come with two iconic images, one representing the breakthrough and the other, the discoverer. For example, the page from Darwin’s notebook sketching the branching pattern of evolution often accompanies a portrait of Darwin in his early years when the notebook[…]

Marie Tharp: The Woman Who Pioneered Mapping the Ocean Six Decades Ago

Geologist and cartographer Tharp changed scientific thinking about what lay at the bottom of the ocean. Introduction Despite all the deep-sea expeditions and samples taken from the seabed over the past 100 years, humans still know very little about the ocean’s deepest reaches. And there are good reasons to learn more. Most tsunamis start with[…]

Rosalind Franklin: The Woman Who Discovered the Secret to Life

Franklin was born a century ago, and her X-ray crystallography work crucially contributed to determining the structure of DNA. Introduction What do coal, viruses and DNA have in common? The structures of each – the predominant power source of the early 20th century, one of the most remarkable forms of life on Earth and the[…]

Art and Science in Renaissance Italy

The increased study of plants for artistic purposes during the Renaissance led to the development of the modern field of botany. Early Renaissance Italy witnessed a remarkable flowering of the arts and sciences. Humanist scholars looked to medieval libraries to discover works from the past, which they copied, studied and developed in new ways. They[…]

Jan Baptist Van Helmont: Toxicology in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Van Helmont was an heir of Paracelsus’s thought and movement who went to lengths in later years to distinguish himself. Introduction This article discusses Jan Baptist Van Helmont’s (1579-1644) views on poison in light of his medical alchemy. First, it argues that his approach was fundamentally influenced by the theories of ‘universal poison’ and ‘potent[…]

Alexander von Humboldt Seeking Unity in the New World

Journeying through South America, Alexander von Humboldt sought nothing less than “the unity of nature.” Alexander von Humboldt’s journey to becoming the preeminent scientist of his day had many possible starting points. But July 16,1799,  the day that he, a Prussian naturalist, and his friend Aimé Bonpland, a French botanist, disembarked from the Pizarro in the South[…]

A Mathematical Duel in 16th-Century Renaissance Venice

The story of two Renaissance mathematicians whose jealousies, intrigues, and contentious debates led to a discovery. By Fabio Toscano translated Arturo Sangalli Niccolò Tartaglia was an ambitious teacher who possessed a secret formula – the key to unlocking a seemingly unsolvable, two-thousand-year-old mathematical problem. He wrote it down in the form of a poem to[…]

Russia and the Medical Drug Trade in the Seventeenth Century

Examining what drugs were available in Russia and the great diversity of drugs traded in early modern Europe. Summary This article deals with the trade in medicines into Russia in the seventeenth century. Both the early modern medical drug trade, and Russian medicine, have previously received substantial attention, but no work has thus far been[…]

Talisman and Amulets as ‘Protective Gear’ in Medieval Islam

From magic bowls to holy shirts, Muslim cultures used various devices to protect the user from harm starting in the 11th century. Introduction From the 11th century until around the 19th century, Muslim cultures witnessed the use of magic bowls, healing necklaces and other objects in hopes of warding off drought, famine, floods and even[…]

When Religion Sided with Science during Plague in the Medieval Islamic World

Looking at how people thought about science and religion in the past can inform the contemporary world’s approach. Plagues – A Fact of Life Plagues were a fact of life in ancient and medieval worlds. Personal letters from the Cairo Geniza – a treasure trove of documents from the Jews of medieval Egypt – attest[…]

Astronomy in China since the Ancient World

China continues to be active in astronomy, with many observatories and its own space program. Introduction Astronomy in China has a very long history. Oracle bones from the Shang Dynasty (second millennium B.C.E.) record eclipses and novae. Detailed records of astronomical observations were kept from about the sixth century B.C.E. until the introduction of Western[…]

The Enlightenment, Reason, and Natural Law: Choosing the Beggar Over the Monster

“Enlightenment is the human being’s emancipation from its self-incurred immaturity.” By Santana Juache Introduction The Enlightenment stemmed out of a vast array of political and social changes in Europe. It was a period of radical reformation, of privilege and secular authority. Law and morality were believed to have been bred into the blood of kings[…]

Roger Bacon and His Medieval Search for Scientific Truth

Roger Bacon believed people should test their beliefs rather than accepting what they’re told. Introduction It seems that science has been taking a beating lately. From decades of denial by the tobacco industry that smoking causes cancer to more recent attempts to use the COVID-19 pandemic to score political points, a presumption seems to have[…]

A History of Science and Technology in China since the Ancient Han Dynasty

Among the earliest inventions were the abacus, the “shadow clock,” and the first flying machines. Introduction The history of science and technology in China is both long and rich with science and technological contribution. In antiquity, independent of Greek philosophers and other civilizations, ancient Chinese philosophers made significant advances in science, technology, mathematics, and astronomy.[…]

“Invisible Little Worms”: Athanasius Kircher’s 17th-Century Study of the Plague

Kircher’s investigation can be seen as an important early step to understanding contagion. This article, “Invisible Little Worms”: Athanasius Kircher’s Study of the Plague, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: Introduction Living through the devastating Italian plague of 1656, the[…]