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Dedicated to the free exchange of scientific information, the Royal Society of London - and later, itscounterparts throughout Europe such as The Hague and the Academy of Sciences in Paris - proved crucial to the discussion and design ofmodern science and the experimental method. Although the Royal Society was a governmentally established body, it actedindependently as a body dedicated to research and scientific discovery - that is to say, to improving knowledge and integratingall kinds of scientific research into a coherent system. With such a central artery for scientific progress, scientists were able tomore quickly and fiercely support and promote their new ideas about the world.


The defining feature of the scientific revolution lies in how much scientific thought changed during aperiod of only a century, and in how quickly differing thoughts of different natural philosophers condensed to form a cohesiveexperimental method that chemists, biologists, and physicists can easily utilize today. The modern experimental method incorporatesFrancis Bacon's focus on use of controlled experiments and inductive reasoning, Descartes' focus on hypothesis, logic, andreason, Galileo's emphasis on incorporation of established laws from all disciplines (math, astronomy, chemistry, biology, physics)in coming to a conclusion through mechanism, and Newton’s method of composition, with each successive method strengthening the validityof the next. Essentially, the scientific revolution occurred in one quick bound and the advances made from the 17th century onwardappear as little skips in comparison.

However, one must keep in mind that although the Greeks and the philosophers of the 17th century invented andbegan to perfect the experimental method, their outcomes in their experiments were often flawed because they didn't follow their ownadvice. Even philosophers like Francis Bacon, the main promoter of fact-gathering and controlled experimentation failed at some pointin time to control their experiments or use peer review, or used too much inference/logic and too little mathematicproof/experiment. In short, scientists today must learn from the mistakes of the 17th century philosophers like Galileo who wrote soeloquently about the necessity of a successful scientific method but didn’t execute it correctly or failed to recognize theimportance of pursuing scientific progress not simply for theoretical excellence, but for how it can improve the humancondition.

The lesson to take from the history of the scientific revolution is that the ideas of the17th centuryphilosophers have the most impact in the context of the progress they made as an academic whole – as singular scientists, theybecame more prone to faulty logic and uncontrolled experimentation. For instance, non-scientific reasoning such as teleology continuedto affect genius philosophers and scientists such as Descartes and Boyle, and today scientists are faced with the problem ofintelligent design (teleology) being taught as the equivalent of peer-reviewed, substantiated evolutionary theory. Overall, modernscientists remain just as proneto the same problems as the 17th century philosophers and therefore might consider looking towardthe legacy of the successes of the scientific revolution againstthe backward medieval philosophy for guidance.

Works cited

1. "About the Society." The Royal Society 2005. The Royal Society. 15 Nov. 2005<http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=2176>.

2. Dear, Peter. Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions,

1500-1700. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

3. Francis Bacon. Farlex, Inc. The Free Dictionary 16 Nov. 2005<http://img.tfd.com/authors/bacon.jpg>.

4. Galileo Galilei. NASA. 16 Nov. 2005<http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap980913.html>.

5. Hall, A R. The Scientific Revolution 1500-1800: The formation of the Modern Scientific Attitude. Londonand Colchester: Longmans, Green and Co, 1954.

6. Hellyer, Marcus. The Scientific Revolution. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2003.

7. Isaac Newton. Université de Nantes. Sciences - Université de Nantes. 16 Nov. 2005<http://www.sciences.univ-nantes.fr/physique/enseignement/tp/hist/newton.jpg>.

8. René Descartes Free Online Library by Farlex. 16 Nov. 2005<http://descartes.thefreelibrary.com/>.

9. "Robert Boyle." 15 Nov. 2005<http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/webdocs/GasLaw/Gas-Boyle-Data.html>.

10. Robert Hooke. NNDB. 15 Nov. 2005<http://www.nndb.com/people/356/000087095/robert-hooke-1.jpg>.

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Source:  OpenStax, Nanotechnology: content and context. OpenStax CNX. May 09, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10418/1.1
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