Many individuals have contributed to the traditions of science. Studying some of these individuals provides further understanding of scientific inquiry, science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the relationships between science and society.
In historical perspective, science has been practiced by different individuals in different cultures. In looking at the history of many peoples, one finds that scientists and engineers of high achievement are considered to be among the most valued contributors to their culture.
Tracing the history of science can show how difficult it was for scientific innovators to break through the accepted ideas of their time to reach the conclusions that we currently take for granted.
For Grades: 9-12
In history, diverse cultures have contributed scientific knowledge and technologic inventions. Modern science began to evolve rapidly in Europe several hundred years ago. During the past two centuries, it has contributed significantly to the industrialization of Western and non-Western cultures. However, other, non-European cultures have developed scientific ideas and solved human problems through technology.
Usually, changes in science occur as small modifications in extant knowledge. The daily work of science and engineering results in incremental advances in our understanding of the world and our ability to meet human needs and aspirations. Much can be learned about the internal workings of science and the nature of science from study of individual scientists, their daily work, and their efforts to advance scientific knowledge in their area of study.
Occasionally, there are advances in science and technology that have important and long-lasting effects on science and society. Examples of such advances include the following: Copernican revolution, Newtonian mechanics, Relativity, Geologic time scale, Plate tectonics, Atomic theory, Nuclear physics, Biological evolution, Germ theory, Industrial revolution, Molecular biology, Information and communication, Quantum theory, Galactic universe, Medical and health technology
The historical perspective of scientific explanations demonstrates how scientific knowledge changes by evolving over time, almost always building on earlier knowledge.