What is Science? Some Giants of Science

The word ‘Science’ is derived from the Latin (Roman) word ‘Scientia’ or ‘Scire’ which means knowledge. Science deals with the understanding of natural phenomena and the relations between them and its end is the rational interpretation of facts of existence as disclosed to us by our faculties and senses. The hypotheses of Science, according to a great thinker, Karl Pearson are formed on the basis of the observed facts, which, when confirmed by criticism and experiments are turned into the “Law of Nature”. In the words of J. Arthur Thomson,” Science is the well-criticized body of empirical knowledge declaring in the simplest and Tersest terms available at the time what can be observed and experimented with, and summing up uniformities of change in the formula which are called laws verifiable by all who can use methods.” Hypothesis, theory, and law seem to be the vertices of the triangle of science based on experiments and observations.

History of Science

The history of science must include the history of the development of all aspects of knowledge. If science is considered as a branch of tested knowledge obtained by the accumulation of fact derived from observations and experiments then Myth and Religion mainly dominated as modes for explaining the world among early civilizations. Early Greek philosophers were the first to bring a change in this concept. They excluded supernatural causes from their accounts of reality. By the 3rd century B.C., Greek science was highly sophisticated and producing theoretical models that have shaped the development of science ever since. Although modern science is said to be the child of Greek science and the Renaissance is believed to have been brought about mainly by the restoration of the Greek Classics but still, their work was not based on observation and experiment; a real scientific approach. Therefore, Greek science itself was not truly scientific. The Greeks were over-theoretical, for their science was an off-shoot of philosophy.

With the fall of Greece to the Roman Empire, science fell from grace. Science was almost unknown in Western Europe in the 5th century A.D. after the fall of the Romans. Islamic culture alone preserved Greek knowledge and later transmitted it back to the West. Muslim scholars were the first to make science meaningful and practical in the real sense by introducing observation and experiment as characteristic steps of scientific achievements.[the_ad id=”17141″]

During the time A.D 200-1200, when Europe was passing through the so-called “Dark Ages“, the whole World was ringing with the scientific achievements of Muslim scholars like Avicenna and Averroes.

The spectrum of the history of Science can be traced back in the following chronological order:

  1. Myth and Superstitions
  2. Babylonian Science
  3. Egyptian Science
  4. Greek Science
  5. Alexandrian Science
  6. Islamic Science
  7. Western Science
  8. Modern Science

Achievements of Some Giants of Science in the Chronological Order

Name of the Scientist Life-Span Scientific Contributions
Pythagoras 580-500 B.C. He formulated the basic laws of geometry.
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. He divided the Universe into two distinct regions. He also did the first systematic work on Comparative Biology.
Archimedes (Italian) 287-212 B.C. He gave famous Archimedes Principle for Floating Bodies.
Hippocrates 190-120 B.C. He gave importance to the position of stars and made a comprehensive list on the relative shift in the position of stars.
Johannes Kepler (German) A.D. 1571-1630 He was the first person to show that the planets move around the sun in elliptic orbits. He gave laws of planetary motion.
Galileo Galilei (Italian) A.D. 1564-1642 He developed the Astronomical Telescope.
Isaac Newton (English) A.D. 1642-1727 He gave Laws of motion and Laws of Gravitation. He was Professor of Mathematics.
Charles Darwin (English) A.D. 1809-1892 He was a naturalist. He revolutionized Biology. He gave the theories of Natural Selection in Evolution.
Albert Einstein (German) A.D. 1879-1955 He was a physicist. He revised classical physics with his theory of General Relativity.

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