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Portal:History of science

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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 the English polymath 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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A copy of the letter
The Einstein–Szilárd letter was a letter written by Leó Szilárd and signed by Albert Einstein that was sent to the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 2, 1939. Written by Szilárd in consultation with fellow Hungarian physicists Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, the letter warned that Germany might develop atomic bombs and suggested that the United States should start its own nuclear program. It prompted action by Roosevelt, which eventually resulted in the Manhattan Project developing the first atomic bombs. ( Full article...)
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Craniometry skull 1902.jpg

Craniometry, the technique of measuring the bones of the skull, was once intensively practiced in anthropology/ ethnology. Through the 20th century, craniometry—especially measurements of brain volume—was a matter of considerable; among other misuses, the apparent scientific support of craniometric theories for racism was used to the support the racist ideologies, and ultimately genocidal policies, of the Nazi party.

Did you know

...that the word scientist was coined in 1833 by philosopher and historian of science William Whewell?

...that biogeography has its roots in investigations of the story of Noah's Ark?

...that the idea of the " Scientific Revolution" dates only to 1939, with the work of Alexandre Koyré?

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Vannevar Bush portrait.jpg

Vannevar Bush ( /væˈnvɑːr/ van-NEE-var; March 11, 1890 – June 28, 1974) was an American engineer, inventor and science administrator, who during World War II headed the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), through which almost all wartime military R&D was carried out, including important developments in radar and the initiation and early administration of the Manhattan Project. He emphasized the importance of scientific research to national security and economic well-being, and was chiefly responsible for the movement that led to the creation of the National Science Foundation.

Bush joined the Department of Electrical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1919, and founded the company that became the Raytheon Company in 1922. Bush became vice president of MIT and dean of the MIT School of Engineering in 1932, and president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1938. ( Full article...)
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