2/5 “A Professor in His Study” Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment
This is a period occurring between the 16 century and the French Revolution. A European
sense of superiority led them to believe they are the most advanced civilization.
The Medieval View
None of the fellows were “hapless doobs”. Their views were fairly sophisticated, but they
were too caught up in tradition to follow progress easily.
*Thomas S. Kuhn “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” = 1 tests seems fabulous, but as you go
along measures get more sophisticated and little anomalies start to crop up. No one wants to deal
with holes in respected theory so they ignore them till the anomalies become overwhelming. A
new theory is discovered based on flaws in the old and new research, and that becomes the
accepted paradigm til the cycle starts again.
*Greek World View: 4 basic elements. 2 laws of motion. Earth & water follow gravity, fire & air
levity. Only violent motion can shake this structure up. (lol puns) The heavens move in perfect
circles around the earth, “geocentrism”.
The Reformation makes it easier to question the church, printing press moves info around
easier, money from new trade makes Europe wealthier, the Renaissance makes new ideas
*Copernicus (1475-1543) writes On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres just before
reformation. Challenges greek theory, asserts sun is @ center. Heliocentrism. Decides not to
publish til he is posthumous, but then a buddy, George Joachim Rheticus hears about his work
through the grapevine and feels the public must know. In 1543 he sees it is published, and
popular legend has it Copernicus gets to hold one of the first volumes on his death bed.
The Church Condemns the work as heresy. What else is new.
*Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) last of “naked eye astronomers”. Awesome. Gets nose cut off in duel
over math, wears prosthetic gold/silver nose. Had psychic midget named Yap, and a pet moose
with a drinking problem. So he‟d be the perfect mainer. Owns 2 island observatories, keep
extensive, meticulous records. Not a great mathematician, but great at recording data. (If I go back in time I‟m chillin‟ with Tycho Brahe.)
His assistant, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) devout catholic and mathematician. These two are
like the odd couple. But Kepler finds unquestionable proof the earth is not the center, and
because his religion is paramount to him and he must go against it he has a bit of a life crisis.
However he publishes the data, no geocentricism,no perfect circles. Heliocentrism and Ellipses.
*Galileo (1564-1642) 1609- lenses experimented w/ in the Dutch Netherlands. He gets ideas,
builds first 32 pwer telescope. Discovers the milky way is a galaxy, Jupiter has moons, our moon
is marked up with craters and shtuff. Publishes the Celestial Messenger. The Church is not
amused. Convicted of heresy. “I cannot doubt the wisdom of my own eye.”
*Isaac Newton (1642-1727) went to trinity college, Cambridge, died a virgin. (which is probably
not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. He was never forced into a vapid marriage to a