Renaissance ScienceThe Scientific Revolution
The Renaissance was a time of cultural revival in many aspects of European life including philosophy, art, and technology. Toward the later half of the Renaissance, another revolution of thought began. It’s called the Scientific Revolution. Many of the ideas and discoveries that are essential to our modern understanding of science took root at that time. We invite you rediscover what the giants of science learned back then by completing one of these science fair projects linked to below.
Before the scientific revolution, people sought truth mainly through philosophy. Following the ideas of Aristotle, intelligent, educated men tried to discover truth by discussing ideas logically. In 1620, Francis Bacon argued that the best way to find truth about the natural world was not through logical argument, but by observing the world systematically. Another Renaissance thinker, René Descartes, also proposed systematic observations and developed analytic geometry to help explain the way the world works. Using their ideas, you can make careful observations and mathematical calculations to measure the diameter of the sun and the moon or calculating the circumference of the Earth.
Speaking of the sun, moon, and Earth, much of what we know about the way the world works is because of what we have learned by studying the heavens. The invention of the telescope around 1608 was essential for scientists to study the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies. Shortly after it was invented, the famous scientist Galileo Galilei began using one to make observations of our solar system. He observed the moon in detail and discovered sunspots, Jupiter’s moons, and the phases of Venus. You can build your own telescope and use it to observe too! When looking at the moon, Galileo could see many craters. How did they form? You can find out by both observing them and by trying to create miniature craters. Are you more interested in sunspots? You can learn more about them by counting sunspots or studying sunspot cycles.
You probably know the story of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell on his head, which inspired his theory of gravity. You may not know that Galileo’s studies of planets and moons also contributed a lot to our understanding of gravity. You can learn more about gravity by doing this Galileo's classic experiment testing whether heavier objects fall faster than light ones. Sir Isaac Newton first discovered how the moon's gravity affects tides. you discover it for yourself by doing this experiment. Gravity is also an important factor in the motion of a pendulum, a simple machine of great interest to Galileo.