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Are We To Expect A New Scientific Revolution Soon?

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The term ‘scientific revolution’ was put into practice fairly recently, however, the idea that it embodied originated in the 17th century, when Isaac Newton’s monograph “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” was first published, and marked the end of the transition of the pre-scientific thinking epoch to a new level. It stimulated the major shift of traditional paradigms in religious and philosophical thought and significantly changed the life of the Western Civilization.

It was the result of rapidly developing trade and craft which brought along new scientific theories and methods. People were challenged to solve different problems, which they had never come across in the past, such as navigation or increased interest in the interconnection between nature and mathematical science, for example.

The most prominent and groundbreaking discoveries took place in biology, physics and chemistry. It was then when Newton discovered his laws of gravitation and motion and William Harvey started to study blood circulation. These and other discoveries made some educated people reject many religious beliefs which, however, did not manage to undermine its basics and, on the contrary, helped many to consolidate in their faith.

The next phase of evolution in the 18th and 19th centuries brought along further development of mathematical thought namely the calculus, invented by Newton, but transformed by Lagrange, Bernoullis and Euler into an effective tool to be used in astronomy and physics.

It was also the time of chemistry becoming immensely experimental and daring. Mendeleev, Dalton and Priestley, to name just a few, were those who took it to a new level, laying the foundation for modern chemistry.

But something truly amazing was happening at that time in the area of technology. People changed the way they worked, travelled and communicated. Steam engines, agricultural machinery and electric generators were born at the time when people started to think about how to make their work more productive and their life more enjoyable.

The next scientific revolution phase at the beginning-midst of the 20th witnessed the new ideas of space and time, introduced by Einstein, appear. Ernest Rutherford’s discoveries in the field of nuclear physics and chemistry attracted world’s attention. Medicine advanced to a level never known before. Although in the broader historical context we can see that this time was less welcoming in regards to any scientific discoveries.

If we were to ask questions, the late 15th - 17th century people sought to answer the question of why, people who lived in the 18th – early 20th century were interested in ‘how?’, but today the question is ‘what next?’

What should we expect to happen next? What else are we going to learn? Will we witness another scientific revolution in the future?

Ehsan Masood, journalist and a science writer, in his recent article for the Guardian says people cannot identify the ‘unknown’ correctly anymore, being confused by the amount of information available.

He says we do not need outstanding scientists to break the ground nowadays. The future of science will be defined by interconnected computers and research teams whose main objective will be to deepen the understanding of existing concepts. It is now about how this information is obtained, presented and used to benefit people. Masood thinks that a true discoverer is always a challenger. But in order to become one he has to be critical-thinking but also financially and sometimes socially independent.

 

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