Explain the geocentric and heliocentric theories and who supported them:
Describe the genius of Galileo – his inventions, his approach to science
Describe Kepler and explain his 3 laws of planetary mothion.
Why is Van Leeuwenhoek considered the Father of Microbiology?
Renaissance Art and Science:Science and art were very closely related during the Renaissance. Great artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, studied anatomy to better understand the body so they could create realistic paintings and sculptures. Architects such as Filippo Brunelleschi made advances in math in order to design buildings. The geniuses of the time were often both artists and scientists. The true Renaissance man was highly educated, a deep thinker and accomplished in many things – not just one.
Figure Galileo showing his telescope to the Pope Urban VII
In the Dark Ages, most Europeans felt that God ran the universe and was the only one who could ever understand its mysteries. In the Renaissance, however, many felt that God had given human beings a brain for a reason: to explore these mysteries and figure them out!
Printing Press The most important invention of the Renaissance, and perhaps in the history of the world, was Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press (1440). By 1500 there were printing presses throughout Europe. Low printing costs helped scientists publish their discoveries, allowing them to share their work, as well as read and learn from other scientists. Libraries and universities built collections of these books - the work of both modern and ancient scientists. Research was much easier, and the result was a scientific revolution across Europe.
Earth as the Center of the Universe One field of science that drew a lot of interest was astronomy. For almost 2000 years, Europeans believed a theory about how the universe worked put forth by Aristotle and another famous Greek scientist, Ptolemy. The theory explained that the heavens were a series of crystal spheres that turned slowly around Earth. The planets and the sun were fastened to these spheres, and that is how they moved. Because it was believed that Earth was the center of the universe, the theory was called the “geocentric theory.”
This was not just the scientific position of that time; it was also the religious position. The Church taught that the arrangement of the solar system was part of God's plan. God was known as the Prime Mover of the spheres, and Heaven was located in the outermost sphere.
Nicolaus Copernicus: 1473-1543
Actually, a different Greek scientist, Aristarchus, was the first to discover the true nature of our world – the heliocentric theory, which states that the Earth is NOT the center of the universe; it orbits the sun along with the other planets of our solar system. Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus re-introduced this theory during the Renaissance, and proved it with a detailed mathematical explanation. He created a complete model of the solar system that combined physics, math and astronomy. Copernicus knew that he would be attacked for his views and didn’t publish his ideas until a year before he died. He was right; very few people believed him!
Galileo Galilei: 1564-1642
Galileo was one of the greatest scientists in history. He is called the father of Scientific Method because he conducted controlled experiments then analyzed the resulting data to prove, or disprove, a theory. The Scientific
Method was further refined by many great scientists after him.
Galileo invented the pendulum in 1581, which improved the accuracy of mechanical clocks that were invented in the early days of the Renaissance. Galileo invented the first thermometer in 1603, and one of his students built the first barometer to measure atmospheric pressure and predict weather.
Galileo was already studying the planets when he heard about the concept of the telescope. He began grinding lenses and built his own telescope capable of observing the planets of our solar system. He made all sorts of new discoveries, such as discovering that the Moon was not really smooth, but covered with craters. He also determined that the moon did not make its own light, but reflected light from the sun. He discovered the planet Saturn, identified moons orbiting Jupiter, noted the phases of the planet Venus, and discovered sunspots.
Galileo Agrees with Copernicus After recording and studying his observations of the planets and the moon with his telescope, Galileo determined that Copernicus' heliocentric theory was correct. He wrote a paper comparing the heliocentric and geocentric theories. He was supposed to be a neutral observer, but it was clear to all who read it that he thought the heliocentric theory was correct. This horrified Pope Urban VII and the Catholic Church. Galileo was arrested, tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", forced to recant. He spent the rest of his life confined to his house in Florence.
Brahe (1546-1601) was a Danish nobleman who built an observatory and recorded many precise measurements of the planets and stars. He made great strides in the work of observing the heavens.
Johannes Kepler Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) went to work for Tycho Brahe as his assistant, and was given the task of figuring out the orbit of Mars. At that time, it was believed that all of the planets' orbits were circular since they were within the “crystal spheres.” The measurements they had been getting for Mars, however, didn't fit with the idea of a circular orbit. Kepler figured out that the orbit of Mars was an ellipse, or oval, not a circle.
This discovery led to other discoveries. Soon, Kepler had a picture of the solar system that made more sense than any of the older ideas. It was Kepler who gave us the view of the solar system that we still have today - the sun in the middle and the earth and the other planets revolving in elliptical orbits around the sun.
Kepler didn't stop there. He discovered 3 laws of planetary motion. His first law explained the elliptical orbits. His second law stated that each planet moves faster when it is nearer to the sun. His third law explained that the planets closest to the sun make orbits in the fastest time, while the planets farthest from the sun take much longer. We now know that Mercury orbits the sun in 88 days, while it takes Neptune 165 years!
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723)
Van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch eyeglass maker whose interest in microscopes and glass processing led to one of the most significant inventions in the history of science. By placing the middle of a small rod of soda lime glass in a hot flame, Van Leeuwenhoek could pull the hot section apart to create two long whiskers of glass. Then, by reinserting the end of one whisker into the flame, he could create a very small, high-quality glass sphere. These spheres became the lenses of his microscopes, with the smallest spheres providing the highest magnifications.
He loved looking at anything and everything through his microscope. He was the first to observe and write about muscle fibers, blood cells moving in capillaries and bacteria swimming in saliva. He called single-celled organisms animalcules. Van Leeuwenhoek did not write books, although we have many of his letters. He is considered the Father of Microbiology.