What Was the Scientific Revolution?

The Scientific Revolution in Europe lasted from 1550 to 1700, approximately from the lifetimes of Nicholas Copernicus to Sir Isaac Newton. The movement marked advances in science and mathematics after the Renaissance and after Leonardo da Vinci's death in 1519. Significant concepts from the Scientific Revolution include algebra, calculus, the heliocentric theory and planetary motion of heavenly bodies.

Copernicus studied measurements of the movements of heavenly bodies and determined that Earth was one of several planets that seemed to move around the sun. The prevailing theory in the early 1500s was that everything moved around the Earth. Copernicus had little mathematical evidence to back up his claim, but the publication of his "On The Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres" in 1542 started a new debate in planetary physics.

Rene Descartes advanced algebraic and geometric concepts in the early 1600s, which gave way to more reliable methods of measuring physical movements. Descartes' mathematical prowess led to Newton's invention of calculus.

Galileo detected sunspots through telescopes and published his findings in 1613. He discovered four moons of Jupiter by observing their rapid movements around the giant planet. The scientist also determined Earth's gravitational constant by dropping objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Newton built on the works of Copernicus, Johannes Kepler and Galileo when he theorized gravity as the force that keeps planets moving around the sun. Newton heralded calculus as the way to unlock the secrets of the universe towards the end of the Scientific Revolution.