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.
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Ploughing with a yoke of horned cattle in Ancient Egypt
. Painting from the burial chamber of Sennedjem
, c. 1200 BC.
The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development and dissemination of techniques for raising them productively. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of taxa. At least eleven separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin.
were collected and eaten from at least 105,000 years ago. However, domestication did not occur until much later. Starting from around 9500 BC, the eight Neolithic founder crops
– emmer wheat
, einkorn wheat
, hulled barley
, bitter vetch
, chick peas
, and flax
– were cultivated in the Levant
may have been cultivated earlier, but this remains controversial. Rice
was domesticated in China by 6200 BC with earliest known cultivation from 5700 BC, followed by mung
were domesticated in Mesopotamia around 11,000 BC, followed by sheep
between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. Cattle
were domesticated from the wild aurochs
in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8500 BC. Sugarcane
and some root vegetables
were domesticated in New Guinea
around 7000 BC. Sorghum
was domesticated in the Sahel
region of Africa by 3000 BC. In the Andes
of South America, the potato
was domesticated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, along with beans
, and guinea pigs
were cultivated and hybridized
in the same period in Papua New Guinea
. In Mesoamerica
, wild teosinte
was domesticated to maize
by 4000 BC. Cotton
was domesticated in Peru
by 3600 BC. Camels
were domesticated late, perhaps around 3000 BC. Read more...
In this detail from an early 14th century copy of Euclid's Elements, a woman is shown teaching geometry. It is a detail of a scene in the bowl of the letter 'P'; the woman, with a set-square and dividers, uses a compass to measure distances on a diagram. In her left hand she holds a square, an implement for testing or drawing right angles. She is watched by a group of students. In images from the Middle Ages, it is unusual to see women represented as teachers, in particular when the students appear to be monks. She may be the personification of Geometry.
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