Key Breakthroughs of the Scientific Revolution


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William Harvey (1578-1657):

William Harvey was an English doctor and teacher. He was the first to correctly describe and prove that blood circulates through the body and that the heart is responsible for pumping blood. Harvey's renowned book An Anatomical Treatise on the Movement of the Heart and Blood in Animals, published in 1628, has been called the most important book int he history of physiology. Its primary importance lies not in its direct applications, but in the basic understanding it provides of how the human body works.

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543):

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish canon, is considered the founder of modern astronomy. In his most famous work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres), he introduced his heliocentric hypothesis: that earth was one of several heavenly bodies that, turning on their axes, all revolve around the sun. Although challenged by many other scholars at first, his ideas eventually revolutionized Europe's conception of the universe. Copernicus' book was also an indispensible prologue to the scientific discoveries of Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton.

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564):

With his monumental work, De humani corporis fabrica (On the Structure of the Human Body), the Flemish physician and anatomist Andreas Vesalius brought innovation to the study of human anatomy that had been dormant for more than 1,500 years. His observations challenged the works of Galen, a second-century physician whose theories, based on the dissection of animals, were widely believed. Vesalius's work also established the principle that scientific knowledge is found by observing nature, not by readding and thinking about ancient books. His Fabrica recorded the first sizable body of scientific observation since ansient times, and its publication marked the dawn of modern science.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1652):

Galileo Galilei of Italy is considered one of the most influential scientists in European history. He is renowned for scientfic discoveries such as the law of inertia, his invention of the telescope, his astronomical observations, and for his genius proving the Copernican hypothesis. Perhaps his greatest legacy, however, is his perfection of the scientific method. Galileo's emphasis on careful, quantitative measurements continues to be a basic feature of scientific research.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727):

Isaac Newton of England is considered the greatest and most influential scientist in history. Newton made major contributions to the understanding of motion, gravity, heat, and light. He is said to have discovered the principle of gravity when he saw an apple fall to the ground at the same time the moon was visible in the sky. He described his theory and many others in his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Newton also created a system of advanced mathematics called calculus.

Source: Teacher's Curriculum Institute