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Portal:History of science Information

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The History of Science Portal

The history of science is the study of the development of science, including both the natural and social sciences (the history of the arts and humanities is termed history of scholarship). Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real-world phenomena. Historiography of science, in contrast, studies the methods employed by historians of science.

The English word scientist is relatively recent, first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century. Before that, investigators of nature called themselves " natural philosophers". While observations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example, by Thales and Aristotle), and the scientific method has been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham and Roger Bacon), modern science began to develop in the early modern period, and in particular in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those earlier inquiries.

From the 18th through the late 20th century, the history of science, especially of the physical and biological sciences, was often presented as a progressive accumulation of knowledge, in which true theories replaced false beliefs. More recent historical interpretations, such as those of Thomas Kuhn, tend to portray the history of science in terms of competing paradigms or conceptual systems within a wider matrix of intellectual, cultural, economic and political trends. These interpretations, however, have met with opposition for they also portray the history of science as an incoherent system of incommensurable paradigms, not leading to any actual scientific progress but only to the illusion that it has occurred. ( Full article...)

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The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), nicknamed the "Star Wars program", was a proposed missile defense system intended to protect the United States from attack by ballistic strategic nuclear weapons ( intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles). The concept was first announced on March 23, 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, a vocal critic of the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD), which he described as a " suicide pact", and called upon American scientists and engineers to develop a system that would render nuclear weapons obsolete.

The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) was set up in 1984 within the US Department of Defense to oversee development. A wide array of advanced weapon concepts, including lasers, particle beam weapons and ground- and space-based missile systems were studied, along with various sensor, command and control, and high-performance computer systems that would be needed to control a system consisting of hundreds of combat centers and satellites spanning the entire globe and involved in a very short battle. A number of these concepts were tested through the late 1980s, and follow-on efforts and spin-offs continue to this day. ( Full article...)
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Kepler-world.jpg

The world map from Johannes Kepler's Rudolphine Tables (1627), incorporating many of the new discoveries of the Age of Exploration.

Did you know

... that the Merton Thesis—an argument connecting Protestant pietism with the rise of experimental science—dates back to Robert K. Merton's 1938 doctoral dissertation, which launched the historical sociology of science?

...that a number of scientific disciplines, such as computer science and seismology, emerged because of military funding?

...that the principle of conservation of energy was formulated independently by at least 12 individuals between 1830 and 1850?

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John von Neumann in the 1940s

John von Neumann ( /vɒn ˈnɔɪmən/; Hungarian: Neumann János Lajos, pronounced  [ˈnɒjmɒn ˈjaːnoʃ ˈlɒjoʃ]; December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. Von Neumann was generally regarded as the foremost mathematician of his time and said to be "the last representative of the great mathematicians". He integrated pure and applied sciences.

Von Neumann made major contributions to many fields, including mathematics ( foundations of mathematics, functional analysis, ergodic theory, representation theory, operator algebras, geometry, topology, and numerical analysis), physics ( quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics, and quantum statistical mechanics), economics ( game theory), computing ( Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines, stochastic computing), and statistics. ( Full article...)
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