About the SA Blog Network

Guest Blog

Guest Blog

Commentary invited by editors of Scientific American
Guest Blog HomeAboutContact

How the Modern Physics Was Invented in the 17th Century, Part 1: The Needham Question

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Email   PrintPrint

Note: this is the first of three parts of the essay. The other two parts will be published over the next two days (see links at the bottom of the page).

H. Floris Cohen in his recent book “How Modern Science Came into the World: Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough”, according to a blurb, has solved “one of the most pressing problems in world history” and answered an “enduring historical mystery”.[1]

First, what is this mysterious problem about?

The Needham Question

Science, as the process of gaining knowledge about nature, had no certain date and place of birth. For millennia it was fused with technology, and the two words could be fused into “technowledge”.

However as far as physics is concerned there is consensus that something very important happened in the 17th century that deserves to be called the birth of modern physics. Sure, Archimedes (III BC) was a physicist and was such a good one that Galileo called him “the most divine Archimedes”. But it was Galileo who had invented something profoundly new to prompt Einstein to title him “the father of modern physics”.[2]

A simple way to see the turning point in the history of physics is to compare the pace of its development. The most important Galileo’s predecessors – Aristotle and Archimedes – lived two thousand years earlier, while Galileo was the most important predecessor to his students and to Newton who was born in the year of Galileo’s death. Very important for Galileo was also an astro-physical challenge from Copernicus, the acknowledged initiator of “the Scientific Revolution”.

But what did Galileo invent that was so entirely new? It was hardly his insights into specific phenomena like inertia and free fall. Insightful geniuses are born rarely but uniformly all over the globe. An Islamic scientist Alhazen (aka Ibn al-Haytham, 965-1040) had an insight into inertia six centuries before Galileo, and a Chinese philosopher Mozi (aka Mo Tzu, 470-391 BC) – twenty centuries before. But those insights were not developed and remained hidden in old manuscripts until historians discovered them.

Joseph Needham (1900-95), a British scientist, historian and famous sinologist, raised the so-called Needham Question: “Why did modern science, the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, with all its implications for advanced technology, take its meteoric rise only in the West at the time of Galileo? … why modern science had not developed in Chinese civilization (or Indian) but only in Europe?” This question was sharpened by his realization that “between the first century B.C. and the fifteenth century A.D., Chinese civilization was much more efficient than occidental in applying human natural knowledge to practical human needs.”[3]

Most important is not why Europe was the first to launch the modern physics – somebody has to be the first – but why for so long nobody joined the modern physics beyond Europe. European culture borrowed important innovations from China, India, and Islamic world like paper, Hindu-Arabic numerals, and algebra. However the greatest Western innovation of the modern physics did not transfer South-East for centuries. So the Needham question is not just an exercise in what-if history, but it’s about favorable cultural infrastructure for science.

The problem of the Scientific Revolution attracted historians since 1930s with various factors and facets explored and emphasized.[4] The quest was started by Marxist scholars in the wake of two revolutions – the social one in Russia and the quantum-relativistic one in physics. Marxists searched for laws of history – including laws of revolution – similar to laws of physics.

Boris Hessen’s paper “The Social and Economic Roots of Newton’s Principia” (1931) initiated the so called externalist approach to science by the idea that the early modern physics arose from a social context to meet practical demands of capitalist economy.[5]

In the line of externalism, Robert Merton adopted Max Weber’s explanation of the flourishing capitalism by the role of Protestant ideology and argued that the latter was especially favorable to modern physics with its experimentalism as the key feature.

On the other hand, Alexandre Koyre, who coined the very term “the Scientific Revolution”, claimed that it was brought about by “mathematization of nature” rather than by the experimental method.

And, at last, Edgar Zilsel suggested that the modern physics emerged due to early capitalism that urged contacts between academically trained scholars and superior craftsmen.

The very diversity of explanations means the absence of a proper one. Needham in his posthumous publication confirmed that his question was still unanswered.[6] Indeed, the greatest achievement of the Scientific Revolution – celestial mechanics – had no practical value for the economy. For all the four originators – Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton – both the empirical and mathematical tools were indispensable. Only two of the four were Protestants, and two were Catholics. And in China, without capitalism, there were fruitful contacts between scholars and superior craftsmen.

Now, eighty years and hundreds of books later, H. F. Cohen [1], in his eight-hundred-pages answer presented the Scientific Revolution as six revolutionary transformations, and explained the first and most important one as “an inherent possibility” created by Greeks, that could well be realized by Islamic scientists in 11th century but was actually accomplished by Kepler and Galileo in the emergence of realist-mathematical science, thanks to eight favorable factors. Making a revolution in history of science, H. F. Cohen, in his own words, “almost ludicrously downplayed” the role of Copernicus by regarding him as Ptolemy’s last heir rather than the first Scientific Revolutionary.

H. F. Cohen’s explanation doesn’t involve religion at all and so could hardly satisfy those who investigate religious dimensions of the Scientific Revolution and state that theological considerations were of vital importance, as Peter Harrison did in recent book “The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science”.[7]

Neither H. F. Cohen nor P. Harrison quoted Einstein’s words on Galileo as “the father of modern physics”, apparently thinking that an opinion of a physicist of 20th century is irrelevant for the science of 17th century. Indeed “presentism” (thinking about past in terms of modern concepts) is a common danger for historical considerations, but it is not so in the case when we are tracing the origin of MODERN physics.

So we should start with the meaning of the notion “the modern physics”.

H. F. Cohen’s hybrid definition “realist-mathematical” does not distinguish Galileo’s physics from Archimedes’ one, which was both perfectly realist and perfectly mathematical, for the ancient Greek was both great engineer and mathematician.

Referring to Galileo’s science, H. F. Cohen more than once uses an expression ‘recognizably modern’ pronounced by a prominent historian S. Drake referring to Galileo’s science, without elucidating what specifically is recognizable. Here a view of a modern physicist is more relevant than a view of any historian. We can rely on the view of the most famous patent examiner and modern physicist, who recognized in Galileo “the father of modern physics”.

Modern physics and fundamental physics

Einstein depicted his notion of modern physics in his letter to M. Solovine (7 May 1952):

Einstein's letter to Solovine

Here fundamentals of theory (Axioms A) are “free inventions of the human spirit not logically derivable” [8] but arising from empiric Experience E by (ascending arrow of) intuition. And then specific exact statements S are deduced from A to be verified in the E (descending arrows).

Here is a great difference between Galileo’s physics and Archimedes’ one, and the principal similarity of Galileo’s and Einstein’s. All the notions involved in Archimedes’ physics are directly evident and evidently logical – weight, density, geometrical form, while in Einstein’s physics the fundamentals do not have to be evident, – their validations are results of the whole scientific enterprise. As Einstein emphasized, “Concepts can never be derived logically from experience and be above criticism. … Unless one sins against logic, one generally gets nowhere”.[9] Here Einstein means “the logic of previous theory”, but when one is taking the first step, or the first liftoff of intuition, there is no other logic.

The very first inevident and illogical fundamental notion invented by Galileo was “vacuum”, or rather “movement in vacuum”, despite the greatest philosophical authority of those days Aristotle had proved – in more than one way – that there could not be such thing as nothing, aka void, emptiness, vacuum.

Einstein’s scheme can be formulated in the following double postulate:

1) There are fundamentals that physical laws could be deduced from; those fundamentals are not evident, they are as invisible as the foundation stones, or, in Latin, fundamentum;

2) The human spirit is able to probe into this fundamental level of the Universe to understand its working, and any human is free to contribute in the process of this probing and understanding.

In Einstein’s view, this human ability to comprehend the world is an “eternal mystery” or “miracle” even if this miracle is well established fact.

This double postulate defines fundamental science. It was such a fundamental worldview that was the real novelty of the Scientific Revolution starting with Copernicus who demonstrated how fruitful could be such an inevident and illogical notion as heliocentricity. Here is the greatest role of Copernicus as a “role model” for Galileo and Kepler.

However Copernicus (as well as Kepler) could be named fundamental astro-mathematician, while Galileo was the first fundamental physicist (and astrophysicist), since he invented a specific way to probe into the inevident fundamental level of the Universe’s working – by joint use of experiment and mathematical language. He demonstrated his way of making fundamental science in the notion “movement in vacuum” that resulted in the law of inertia, the principle of relativity, and, most importantly, the law of free fall. Galileo never experienced vacuum by his senses, but having based on empirical observation, he employed his brave freedom to invent fundamentals in mathematical language, his responsibility to experimental verification, and came to a fundamental notion of an “invisible” vacuum that happened to be so fruitful.

Fundamental physics is just a small part of the modern physics – its forefront, the larger part being the old good “Archimedean” physics, where to directly evident notions added are tested and accustomed fundamental ones. However it was the forefront fundamental physics that played the role of powerful engine to propel the rest of physics by providing it with new basic “words” to describe physical reality.

Of course a prerequisite for doing good science is a personal curiosity. Fundamental science requires an extraordinary curiosity, because it is most profitless, with its only gain being new knowledge about the inner workings of the Universe. Galileo was the first fundamental physicist. But what, besides great curiosity and talents, helped Galileo as well as Copernicus, Kepler and Newton to become originators of the fundamental science? As Einstein reflected on making science, “one cannot build a house or construct a bridge without using a scaffolding which is really not one of its basic parts”.[10] What scaffolding did employ the originators to construct the new science itself? This is the question for the next posting, tomorrow.


I am grateful to Chia-Hsiung Tze for helping me to appreciate the Needham question, to Lanfranco Belloni for help in checking with the original Italian of Galileo, to Robert S. Cohen, who helped me to appreciate Edgar Zilsel, to Sergey Zelensky and the Methodological seminar at the Institute for History of Science and Technology (Moscow) for stimulating discussions, and to John Stachel for helpful critical remarks.


[1] H. Floris Cohen. How Modern Science Came into the World: Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough. Amsterdam University Press, 2011.

[2] A. Einstein. On the Method of Theoretical Physics, 1933.

[3] J. Needham, The Grand Titration: Science and Society in East and West, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969, pp. 16, 190.

[4] H. F. Cohen, The scientific revolution: a historiographical inquiry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

[5] Gessen (Hessen) B. M. Socialno-ekonomicheskie korni mekhaniki N’yutona. M.-L., GTTI, 1933. 77 pp. English translation in: Gideon Freudenthal and Peter McLaughlin, The Social and Economic Roots of the Scientific Revolution, Springer, 2009, pp. 41-101.

[6] Joseph Needham. Foreword. In: Edgar Zilsel. The Social Origins of Modern Science. Ed. Diederick Raven, Wolfgang Krohn, and Robert S. Cohen. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000.

[7] Peter Harrison. The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

[8] Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist. P.A.Schilpp, ed. Evanston, 1949. pp.683-684..

[9] and [10] Einstein’s letter to M. Solovine, 28 May 1953.

See all three parts of this essay:

How the Modern Physics was invented in the 17th century, part 1: The Needham Question
How the Modern Physics was invented in the 17th century, part 2: source of fundamental laws
How the Modern Physics was invented in the 17th century, part 3: Why Galileo didn’t discover universal gravitation?

Gennady Gorelik About the Author: Gennady Gorelik is a historian of science at Boston University, author of a biography of Andrei Sakharov, and a web-exhibit at American Institute of Physics: Sakharov: Soviet Physics, Nuclear Weapons & Human Rights

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Comments 20 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. jtdwyer 9:44 am 04/7/2012

    This first installment is well done and very interesting, but I have to admit that I’m not a student much less a scholar – and that I have no patience.

    It seems to me that the obvious answer is that Galileo had the breakthrough of observation brought by the telescope to drive perceptions and insights into to the large scale workings of astrophysics.

    While the geocentric model of the cosmos had seemed adequate for ~1500 years, when only the motions of tiny objects in the Earth’s sky required explanation, only when telescopes could allow the observations of stars and planets as enormous objects in a seemingly boundless, relatively empty space was a more complex explanation of the newly observed interactions of massive objects necessary.

    Perhaps I should wait for tomorrow’s installment…

    In the meantime, what perceptual shortcoming has produced the missing ‘dark’ elements seemingly necessary to reconcile our interpretations of observations with our fundamental conception of the cosmos? Could it be our insistence (despite evidence to the contrary) that the vacuum of space is empty, yet some missing physical attribute of space would seem necessary to mechanically produce logical effects within the abstract system of dimensional spacetime coordinates employed by general relativity to (at least at moderately enormous scales) to describe gravitation?

    Link to this
  2. 2. ggorelik 10:42 am 04/7/2012

    Galileo had made his first major discovery in modern physics – the law of free fall – before he heard about the invention telescope.

    Link to this
  3. 3. jtdwyer 1:31 pm 04/7/2012

    If I understand correctly, free fall could be observed empirically with the unaided eye on a daily basis and did not require detailed observations of objects in space to conceptualize. As I understand, Galileo was not the first to conceptualize either free fall or inertia.

    Wasn’t it the observation of objects in space that supported the idea that massive objects moved in an effective vacuum, independent of any material medium?

    Perhaps you address these topics in the upcoming segments…

    Link to this
  4. 4. ggorelik 2:52 pm 04/7/2012

    Yes, free fall could be easily observed with the unaided eye. The phenomenon was conceptualized by Aristotle in such a way that a heavier body is falling faster, and a body which is ten times heavier is falling ten times faster.
    Galileo managed to invent a new conceptualization by employing his freedom of invention, basing on his experiments with pendulum and inclined plane, and relying on … some scaffolding .

    Link to this
  5. 5. jtdwyer 6:21 pm 04/7/2012

    I really don’t know anything about it, but relying on, it states:
    “In his 1638 “Discorsi” Galileo’s character Salviati, widely regarded as Galileo’s spokesman, that all unequal weights would fall with the same finite speed in a vacuum. But this had previously been proposed by Lucretius and Simon Stevin. Cristiano Banti’s Salviati also held it could be experimentally demonstrated by the comparison of pendulum motions in air with bobs of lead and of cork which had different weight but which were otherwise similar.”
    “Galileo proposed that a falling body would fall with a uniform acceleration, as long as the resistance of the medium through which it was falling remained negligible, or in the limiting case of its falling through a vacuum. He also derived the correct kinematical law for the distance travelled during a uniform acceleration starting from rest—namely, that it is proportional to the square of the elapsed time. However, in neither case were these discoveries entirely original.”

    Elsewhere in the entry Wikipedia states that in 1610 Galileo “publishes Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger); views our moon’s mountains and craters and brightest 4 of Jupiter’s moons.” That indicates that Galileo had used his telescope before proposing his theory of falling bodies and his introduction of the ideas of a frictional force and a conversely frictionless vacuum.

    Certainly Galileo was a genius who made a number of scientific breakthroughs, but I think it can be argued (by someone better versed than I) that it was the invention of the telescope that provided the fundamental perceptual breakthrough that allowed the development of revolutionary developments in physics.

    Link to this
  6. 6. doctordawg 9:35 pm 04/7/2012

    I hope Galileo serves as a constant reminder of why we must never allow religion into the political process.

    Link to this
  7. 7. jtdwyer 7:47 am 04/8/2012

    doctordawg – I agree.

    I also think it could be helpful if political activities could be separated from scientific endeavors…

    Link to this
  8. 8. hemmerlepierre 1:37 pm 04/8/2012

    The actual physics are based on empiricism exclusively, that empiricism being sequatiously admitted in latter mathematical developments. Einstein’s theory is false although it is based on indeed exact ( and refulgent ) mathematics : the reason lies on the epistemological gap beetween experience and conjectures.
    One example : does Universe know the human local concept of line?
    One example : does Universe allow to tamper with time ?
    One example : why has been Universe declared a vacuum ?
    and so on……..
    Pierre Hemmerle

    Link to this
  9. 9. hemmerlepierre 1:45 pm 04/8/2012

    Galileo experiment is interesting as a technical mediatized feat. As a basis for development leading to Higg’s conjecture, it is a mistake, even if it is right.
    The worst part in the experience is that it has prevented the scientific community to come up with a brain-based kindergarten-level explanation of the dynamics involved.

    Pierre Hemmerlé

    Link to this
  10. 10. outsidethebox 9:51 pm 04/8/2012

    Did many great men (but perhaps not as great as Newton) continue to make substantial contributions? Yes and that was the real meaning of the term modern physics. Archimedes may have been as fine a mind as Galileo but he did not start an ongoing process that we now call science. It is the ongoing process rather than any single man that is the important thing here. It is not unlike the Norse coming to America but not successfully developing it compared to Columbus coming to the New World by mistake but from a society very much interested in exploration and development.

    Link to this
  11. 11. Torbjörn Larsson, OM 6:22 am 04/9/2012

    I positively cringe every time historians and/or philosophers try to portrait science, even less understanding it. They inevitably fail. Here it is the necessary reification of individuals (history) and concepts such as “fundamental” (philosophy) that gets in the way of both.

    What science is, is hard to describe and doesn’t admit a ready definition. Einstein’s view on science and “fundamental science” are both historical peculiars that has been left behind. What he describes is no different from any learning process, making the learned patterns in codified form axiomatic.

    What makes it possible to discover universal patterns (a better term than “fundamental laws”) and independent on the data of the learning set is the idea of formulating theories and testing them.

    Why there are universal patterns is another and open question. For example, environmental selection predicts it, i.e. that the presence of observers by necessity has selected a more stable environment.

    And this is the core point:

    “The very diversity of explanations means the absence of a proper one.”

    That isn’t how it works in empirical sciences. We can have several explanations of gravity (classical, general relativity), even simultaneously valid but with different domains of validity.

    What it means here is that the area has no means of testing for improper explanations, so can’t produce known proper ones. They are just so stories.

    Also this:

    “had an insight into inertia six centuries before Galileo, and a Chinese philosopher Mozi (aka Mo Tzu, 470-391 BC) – twenty centuries before.”

    Most of these reified individuals never did anything of the kind, but have modern historians invent just so stories to make them interesting. Mozi seems to have been a moral philosopher. Relevance, sources?

    Link to this
  12. 12. Torbjörn Larsson, OM 6:24 am 04/9/2012

    And of course I also cringe when the crackpots crawls out of the woodwork and regurgitates their mush of ‘theories’.

    Link to this
  13. 13. jtdwyer 8:26 am 04/9/2012

    Torbjörn Larsson, OM,

    “The very diversity of explanations means the absence of a proper one.”
    “That isn’t how it works in empirical sciences. We can have several explanations of gravity (classical, general relativity), even simultaneously valid but with different domains of validity.”

    In what way does universal gravitation’s domain exceed that of general relativity? It seems in all ways to have been properly superseded by general relativity, except for the convenient simplicity of its mathematical processes. Is ‘ease of use’ a proper criteria for determining validity in empirical sciences, or just “how it works” for scientists?

    Don’t the inconsistencies among the various theories of gravitation and their (improper) practical applications that seem to require imaginary ‘dark’ patches to align with observations, as well as the unresolved conflicts with quantum theory, indicate some fundamental shortcomings?

    Not that any mere unwashed mortal should question the divine ways of true physicists such as yourself!

    Link to this
  14. 14. hemmerlepierre 12:36 pm 04/10/2012

    The actual physics are based on empiricism exclusively, that empiricism being sequatiously admitted in latter mathematical developments. Einstein’s theory is false although it is based on indeed exact ( and refulgent ) mathematics : the reason lies on the epistemological gap beetween experience and conjectures.
    One example : does Universe know the human local concept of line?
    One example : does Universe allow to tamper with time ?
    One example : why has been Universe declared a vacuum ?
    and so on……..
    Pierre Hemmerle

    Link to this
  15. 15. Dr. Strangelove 3:58 am 04/11/2012


    IMO Archimedean physics was as sophisticated and modern as Galilean physics. Archimedes principle is still taught today in engineering schools and still used today in ship building. I would argue that modern physics was invented in the 3rd century BC at Alexandria but was forgotten until the 16th century in Europe.

    I doubt that inevident and illogical notions such as the vacuum made any difference in physics. After all, didn’t the Pythagoreans believe in the “harmony of the spheres?” But they didn’t invent the laws of planetary motion. Kepler did, inspired by this Pythagorean illogical notion. Didn’t the Epicureans believe in indivisible atoms? But they didn’t invent the modern atomic theory. Dalton did, inspired by this inevident notion. Didn’t the Platonists believe in the “world of ideas?” But they didn’t invent theoretical physics. Einstein revolutionized it, inspired by this illogical notion that reality can be grasped by pure thought as the Platonists held.

    I think modern physics flourished in the 16th century because more educated people were exposed to scientific knowledge due to availability of books (printing) and popularization of the scientific method by philosophers (Francis Bacon). This inspired more people to pursue scientific research which resulted to faster progress in science. Whereas in the ancient times, scientific research was done only by a few geniuses like Archimedes.

    Link to this
  16. 16. Dr. Strangelove 4:41 am 04/11/2012

    May I add that Aristarchus believed in the inevident concept of heliocentrism and indeed invented heliocentric astronomy 1,800 years before Copernicus. Likewise, I hold Archimedes invented modern physics 1,800 years before Galileo.

    I don’t think Copernicus and Galileo thought they were doing something different from their ancient predecessors, whose works they studied. I think that illogical notion was invented by the 20th century historians of science.

    Link to this
  17. 17. ggorelik 11:08 am 04/11/2012

    Archimedean physics was and is really perfect. So, Archimedes could be named the first physicist, and BTW physicists at the Moscow university, in my time, celebrated the birthday of Archimedes as the birthday of physics.
    Galileo could be named the first modern physicist, or, more specifically, the first fundamental theoretical physicist (as well as experimental one). At least Einstein thought so.
    Young Kepler’s Platonic solid model of the Solar system (Mysterium Cosmographicum, 1596) was a failure, and he acknowledged it after Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s moons (1610). Kepler’s real achievements were his laws of planetary motion (1609).
    Copernicus was aware of Aristarchus’ idea of heliocentrism, but he was brave and purposeful enough to develop it into heliocentric system.
    Galileo did think he was doing something really new in science.

    Link to this
  18. 18. Dr. Strangelove 11:16 pm 04/11/2012

    Galileo thought he was doing something new in science. He was overturning Aristotlean physics and Ptolemaic astronomy. But he was following the footsteps of Archimedes, Aristarchus and Apollonius.

    The 17th century scientific revolution did not happen out of nowhere. They were standing on the shoulders of the giants of Alexandrian science: Euclid, Archimedes, Aristarchus, Apollonius, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, Hero, Ptolemy, Diophantus, Menelaus, Theon, Hypatia, etc.

    It’s arbitrary to claim modern physics began in the 17th century. Archimedes principle, Newton’s laws of motion and Einstein’s special theory relativity are all found in a modern physics texbook. Professors and students do not distinguish which is ancient, 17th century and 20th century. They are all modern physics.

    Link to this
  19. 19. Jan Jitso 3:54 am 04/12/2012

    If the author will continue with a second and third part he also should present the latest theory on gravity by Vasily Yanchilin. This russians shows with the principle of least action that the general theory of relativity is wrong. In short (for more see or better read the book The Quantum Theory of Gravitation, 2003): A photon from Mercurius passing the sun will try to get as big steps (oscillations/low frequencies) as possible and a minimum number of these. Everybody agrees that near mass the unit of length becomes smaller and the path longer. Einstein maintained that near the mass of the sun time goes slower (which contradicts the fast processes at the enormous concentration of the Big Bang). Then the photon would seek proximity of the sun and show (although in own geometry going straight on) a hyperbolic track to the distant observer. In reality a parabolic route is taken, which confirms according Yanchilin that near mass the second goes faster.
    This has as a consequence that in the past when mass was more concentrated in the universe the speed of light was bigger and therefore the supernovae Ia scale has to be corrected. Then accellerated expansion of the universe diappears and the Nobel prize 2012 has to be given back. Likewise the cosmological constant, negative energy and inflation become superfluous, while black holes do not exist, are just big masses.

    Link to this
  20. 20. jgrosay 3:11 pm 04/23/2012

    This article on history of science is very interesting, and would be good tracking the next parts. After reading “Politics as a job, science as a job” from the unclassifiable Max Weber, the only thing I remind is “Those wanting to enter politics must put themselves under the devils’ commands”. The issue of connection of search of wealth and “protestantism”, I would prefer the word “Lutheranism” is a classic one, that may have its roots in the Calvinists’, or Hugonots’, the name you prefer, concept of wealth as a sign of future salvation, Calvinists were not specially kind with their opponents, as they burnt Miguel Servet, that discovered the lesser circle circulation before Harvey, for writing a text on the Holy Trinity they thought unadequete. The Saint Bartholomew’s night, a known tragedy depicted in “Intolerance” by Griffith, may have been triggered by similar previous actions from Hugonots to Catholics, but all this are very old violence acts that have no continuation today, and it’s also easy to thing that somebody having Cohen as surname may find difficulties understanding elements of religions alien to hers, but we all have been born with a brain. Galileo was chased to some 40 miles out of Rome, and the current policy of religions and political authorities beging pardon for the crimes of their correligionaries centuries ago is purposeless, as those living today did not make the wrong actions. The spread and acknowledgement a discovery or a scientist may have can be also connected to the current power of their friends or relatives, of the civilization where he/she conducted the research, and some other things not necessarily connected to the value of their work, it’s a pity, but in some ways, science coming from certain places or cultures continues being an isolated cell to other scientists. A song by a canary island born author, Caco Senante says: “Forging the big century many transcurred before”, Science, and scientific progress is the merit of the whole mankind, and the subject of who, how and when contributed to a certain issue is a good one for historians, and history is a highly speculative science, as we can’t watch the facts, and the information left to us, for sure has some kind of a publication bias.

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Email this Article