Scientific Revolution and Popular Memory

The Scientific Revolution holds a powerful place in the popular understanding of science. It is taught in high school physics and history classes, is the subject of entire courses at the college level, and its meaning is still debated by scholars. However, the most popular narrative of the Scientific Revolution is heavily tilted toward Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Sir Isaac Newton, with other scientific pioneers often conspicuously absent except for in classes at the college level. First, pick one of the three mentioned above and one of the following or any other scientist discussed in this week’s readings.

  • Rene Descartes
  • Robert Boyle
  • Johannes Kepler
  • Tycho Brahe
  • Paracelsus
  • William Harvey
  • Gottfried Leibnitz
  • Robert Hooke
  • Giovanni Cassini
  • Edmund Halley

Then, building off of your first response to this week’s “Scientific Revolution” discussion, write an essay that evaluates the scientific accomplishments of the two scientists and postulate why one is better known in the general public than the other. What does this tell us about how popular memories and narratives are created?

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