Scientific Revolution: Crash Course European History #12


Hi I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History. Okay so look: It has been bleak so far. We’ve had the Black Death, the 116 Years’
War, a series of religious wars that culminated with a 30 Years War that killed 20% of Central
Europe. We’ve had the little ice age and witch murdering
mania and the Atlantic slave trade but now, now we get to turn our attention to the scientific
revolution, which profoundly reshaped our understanding of the universe and ourselves. At last, we are going to make real, undeniable
progress. What’s that? Oh, Stan tells me that many of these scientists
were persecuted for sciencing. Great. But that doesn’t stop humans from developing
the central insight that reshapes human history. It’s about to get really heliocentric around
here… [Intro]
Before we get into the scientific revolution, I just want to make one broad comment that
might be obvious if you’ve watched previous videos in this series: For most of human history,
people did not expect to live healthier or more prosperous lives than previous generations. Sometimes life got better, and sometimes it
got worse. It’s true that human populations were increasing
and that life expectancy was increasing gradually, but the idea that it is normal for human life
to get better over time is very new. Today, most European countries have high life
expectancy, low maternal mortality, and low rates of absolute poverty. But there have been about 10,000 generations
of humans, and we are perhaps the 10th generation who could reliably expect disease burden and
child mortality and poverty to steadily decrease in our lifetimes. Well, I’m part of the 10th. You’re probably part of the 11th. But regardless, we owe much of this change
to the Scientific Revolution. So, like the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution
was another break with religious teachings. The Catholic Church taught that the earth
was the center of the universe and had been so since the Creation. The sun, moon, and planets traveled around
the earth in perfectly circular orbits like the rings of an onion. And beyond the onion was the realm of the
divine, whose light pierced through in the form of stars. All this perfect motion was the work of God
Himself. And any other understanding of the universe
was thus a challenge to God’s eternal perfection as described in the scriptures. But, like good Renaissance people, the new
astronomers, mathematicians, and their colleagues in other fields declared that old theories
needed to be reexamined. The first problem was that the perfect orbits
of the planets, and moon, and sun did not fit with observation, causing astronomers
to resort to ancient Ptolemaic explanations (basically that planets followed their own
circular paths, which also revolved around the Earth). Just before his death in 1543, Polish-born
Nicholas Copernicus, a well-connected doctor of canon law and researcher in mathematics,
and astronomy, and classical literature, published On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres. He noted problems with classical astronomical
theory and determined that the universe was “heliocentric”—that is, the sun, rather
than the earth, was at the center. The Catholic Church’s reaction to this was
negative: the Italian monk Giordano Bruno, for instance, was burned at the stake in 1600
for teaching Copernicus’s heliocentric findings. But even earlier than that, in 1572, Danish
astronomer Tycho Brahe spotted a new star and in 1577 a new comet, further confirmation
that the universe was not immutably and perfectly created. Then, Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary
motion announced early in the seventeenth century that the orbits of the planets were
elliptical—not perfectly circular. The solar system was a solar system, and it
wasn’t an onion. Something other than divine will was keeping
the planets apart and in motion. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. By this time, the observations of Galileo
Galilei were bringing matters to a head. Galileo was obsessed with science,
especially its mathematical features and the calculations at the base of Copernicus’s
heliocentric theory. Galileo’s father had wanted him to become
a doctor but mathematics drew him in. It’s the oldest story in the world. He invented many tools like an early thermometer
and his own telescope, which he used to dramatically improve human understanding of the universe
-he was the first person to observe the moons of Jupiter, and the first to understand that
the Milky Way was a collection of stars. The telescope also showed irregular spots
on the sun, a further sign of heavenly imperfections that went against the beliefs espoused by
the Catholic Church. Despite Galileo’s prestige as a mathematician,
his work on the nature of the universe went too far for the Church. In 1615, Galileo went to Rome to teach the
clergy about the heliocentric universe and convince them of its accuracy. In 1616, it was condemned as heretical and
Galileo promised not to teach that the earth moved. But, in 1632, he published Dialogue Concerning
the Two Chief World Systems in which he described the Ptolemaic system on which the Church based
its earth-centered astronomical teachings and the Copernican system. In 1636, the Roman Inquisition found him guilty
of heresy and forced him to recant in order to avoid execution. And so Galileo recanted. In 1992, after a 13 year investigation, the
Catholic Church finally publicly acknowledged that the judgment against him had been wrong.” Thanks Thought Bubble. Centuries later, Albert Einstein would write,
“All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. … Because Galileo saw this, and particularly
because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics–indeed,
of modern science altogether.” We talk about this at length of course in
our history of science series, but for our purposes here it’s important to understand
that Galileo and other scientists used experimentation and mathematical calculation to confirm or
refute hypotheses–and that scientific method was genuinely revolutionary. The scientific approach also spread to other
fields of inquiry. Ancient medical theories began to unravel,
as English medical doctor William Harvey pronounced the heart to be a pump based on dissections
he’d performed. He called the heart “a piece of Machinery”
that worked according to natural laws. But it’s important to note that even as
mechanical theories took hold, prominent “new” scientists continued to believed in unseen
forces at work in the universe. For example, astrology, positing that the
planets and stars influenced people and events, sought to map those influences. Some scientists found it credible
–and they pursued all kinds of mystical, and occult, and alchemical investigations. Any revolution needs good propagandists, and
people were advertising that the “new” scientific values and practices were amazing
while also pointing out that the ancient and traditional ones were full of errors. English politician Francis Bacon was foremost
among these science propagandists, chiding everyone who was using the old paradigms and
models of the universe—calling them worthless ancients. Bacon, like others at the time, created his
own careful observations, and experiments, and sought to use reason. There was, he said, a scientific method to
be followed. One needn’t rely on past accounts that were
copies of copies of copies–one should ask their own questions, and do their own experiments
to find the answer to those questions, experiments that other people could then replicate to
confirm–or refute–the findings. And this became the basis for the new scientific
method as Bacon laid it out in The Advancement of Learning. His process of reaching the truth and drawing
conclusions from specific, reliable facts or evidence is called inductive reasoning. And a collection of reliable, verified evidence
was essential, according to Bacon, not “old wives’ fables” or, as another new scientist
put it, not “maunderings of a babbling hag”—words that were part of the discourse of witches
who were being tried and murdered at the time. And then there was French philosopher René
Descartes who moved speculation about the new science to a still different methodological
register by looking at the mind. Descartes noted that reason—thinking—was
made for verification, so thinking on one’s own was crucial. Because, otherwise there were so many facts
that one could essentially become skeptical about whether truth actually existed. Like imagine a world where there are facts,
but there are also “alternate” facts, and you have to choose between your set of
facts before you reach a conclusion. That would be unlivable! So Descartes set out to prove the one thing
he felt he could be sure of. His own existence. And in doing so, he prioritized his own power
of thinking: “I think therefore I am.” But he also prioritized doubt, which is central
to the scientific method–Descartes also wrote, “We cannot doubt of our existence while
we doubt.” In short, our ability to conceive of doubt
about whether we exist, is proof that we exist. By privileging the role that thought, and
with it questioning, play in discovering truth, Descartes had developed deductive reasoning:
that is, faith in the rational power of the mind to generate specific truths from its
own theories or power of thinking. (By the way in addition to a Crash Course
in the history of science, we also have a crash course in philosophy, where you can
learn more about Descartes.) Okay, let’s turn our attention to Isaac
Newton, who synthesized new methodology and his own findings in his universal laws of
motion. Newton was a scientist with a reputation for
following every lead, Newton practiced alchemy—that is the quest for secret formulae and practices,
especially an entity called the philosopher’s stone that could turn lead or other base metals
into gold. Which by the way would be an inflationary
disaster, but fortunately it’s impossible. But I think that’s important to note because
it reminds us that not every lead being followed by scientists–then or now–results in big
discoveries, but part of the glory of science is learning what doesn’t work. Also, it reminds us that in the 17th century,
many of the smartest people in the world believed in alchemy, a nice opportunity to reflect
on what false promises contemporary humans might believe. At any rate, while studying alchemy, he also
pulled together the findings of his predecessors into mathematical laws for the functioning
of the universe. He quantified the major constructs of mass,
inertia, force, velocity and acceleration and produced the law of gravitation. And he encapsulated all his findings in his
Principia Mathematica in 1687. For Newton, the universe was indeed a fantastic,
regular, and all encompassing machine, yet it was a machine still tinged with the mysteries
that he continued to decipher, and to be fair that we are still deciphering today. By the early decades of the seventeenth century,
contact with the wider world led to other kinds of scientific investigations. Adventurers brought back to Europe new species
of plants, and textiles, minerals, animal life that sparked wonder and scientific probing. One of the first to venture out was Portuguese
doctor Garcia da Orta. He traveled first to Goa, India, studying
plants like aloe, cannabis, coconut, and ginger. In 1563, he published Conversations on the
Simples, Drugs and Medicinal Substances of India, which advanced the use of plants as
medicine. Local people were key to major plant discoveries:
Dr. da Orta, for instance, learned from healers in South Asia, while in the 1620s local people
in Lima cured a Jesuit priest with malaria by giving him the medicine they used–quina-quina. Eventually this healing bark was turned into
quinine, a malaria medication that allowed Europeans to expand their empires more deeply
into Africa and South America. In the cases of both Doctor da Orta and the
Jesuits in Peru, European advances, like others that would follow, depended on gathering up
scientific and medical knowledge from other people. Within Europe, scientific networks developed
around heliocentrism and also around other new ideas just as they had in the Renaissance. Like Erasmus and his correspondents, Galileo
and scientists across Europe wrote one another and published books about their findings. The Royal Society of London had its “republic
of letters.” And communication like that became pivotal
both to verification and to convince as much of the public as possible that these new scientific
discoveries were valid. Amid warfare, the little ice age, and famine,
these scientists were corresponding about comets, windmills, pumps, and blood vessels. Theories about vision and atomism passed around
in letters, reached as far as the Ottoman Empire and Japan. Governments also got in on the Scientific
Revolution, giving scientists like Galileo stipends to support their work, and labeling
them “Court Mathematicians,” which added prestige both to the scientist and the royal
court itself. Louis XIV of France started one of the most
prestigious scientific academies—the royal Academy of Sciences—in 1666. And Theaters of anatomy, where dissections
and other physiological demonstrations occurred, also received official sponsorship. Oh, did the globe open at last? Is Yorick in there? Alas, poor Yorick…I didn’t know eyebrows
were a skeletal feature. For the first, like, 98 percent of history,
we knew so little about how all of this works. Look, I’m never going to be a ventriloquist,
OK? Stan, this isn’t a real skull, is it? Ugh! We will examine the mounting power of the
state next week beyond its sponsorship of science. For the moment, let’s reflect on the ways
in which so-called new scientists during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries bravely
took religious scriptures out of the workings of astronomy and the heavens. Instead of a divine hand at work, by the time
of Newton, universal laws for the operation of the solar system and physical bodies had
been established. Although most people believed in God, many
of them earnestly so, they also followed a developing scientific method and additionally
established faith in their own rational powers. This way of looking at the world would prove
so important that less than 350 years after Galileo became the first person to observe
the moon’s cratered surface, human beings would step foot on that surface. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.




Comments
  1. Oh good, the tired old anti-Catholic pseudo-historical narrative of the Catholic opposition to the scientific revolution.

    Disappointed, but not suprised.

  2. You should cover the rise of Anthropology, Philology (linguistics), and Social Science (of Course economics is older) in the next video.

  3. please can we get an ep on Atheism … someone told me that the majority of the US still believes in angels. wtf!!

  4. I'm a bit worried about John though. Is everything ok for him? At this case I think just a flu but in general.

  5. "old wives tables"? Did I hear that correctly. 🙂

    Also, I love these. These are two of my favorite video series online

  6. Great video. I especially like the concepts of observation, alternative fact, Doing your own research, and making your own conclusions.

    Those concepts summarize most of what I do in my scientific career.

    I always read original research. I look at how experiments were performed, equipment used, and the exact observations.

    I have found that in many cases the facts presented and texts and videos on a particular topic are not the same as the facts of the actual observations.

  7. Good thing we now live in an enlightened age. Imagine living in a world where people refuse to believe something that over 90% of our scientists are telling us. It's hard to believe we were ever that stupid.

  8. BOTH Green brothers pronounce the second syllable of experiment pier instead of pear. They grew up in the Midwest and the South and live half a continent apart; it seems unlikely it's a regional pronunciation. It's the only word I've heard them say that grates on my ears. I wonder where it came from? That said, thanks for a good episode of a good series, from a member of the 9th generation to expect a better future. (And THAT said, I'm not sure the 11st generation in the DEVELOPED world DOES or SHOULD expect a better future. The progress may be taking place elsewhere now.)

  9. Happy to see Garcia da Orta’s work mentioned. I’m from one of the indigenous community he worked with 🙂

  10. Scientists weren't placed under scrutiny by Church for their scientific discoveries. They were chased for their atheistic implications. Giordano Bruno insisted on his idea of infinite universe with infinite solar systems and infinite platets occupied by sentient beings. Church cannot handle that.

  11. I usually like crash course for it's fun way of teaching subjects, but this episode was under research as has been mentioned the various 'matyrs' of science mentioned were not so and the argument that the catholic church is antithetical to the idea of science is woefully misleading.

  12. The video is record show wrong history of science the original inventer of calculus and other thing have been replaced by European stolen and given credit

  13. Turning lead into gold is very much possible, so long as you are willing to spend far more than the gold is worth and don't mind the gold being radioactive and thus slowly decaying into other elements.

  14. Is it sad that the last 3 years, i have realised that my favorite book author has been teaching me history?

  15. everyone please get crash course to 10million subscribers i've been watching for years and i think they deserve it

  16. As far as I'm aware, Galileo didn't invent the telescope but instead just basically copied it from someone from the Netherlands.

  17. And here we are, in the 50th anniversary of NASA going to the moon. Reflect upon all that happened to make it possible. It starts here.

  18. Excuse me Crash course but, if you don't mind, could you please do the revision thing you do at the end of the video, like, breaking the video into chapters? This was done in the Philosophy course and a few other courses. I would really love that, thank you.

  19. Although your channel name is crash course, you can avoid misconceptions and over simplification with little research before preparing the script.

    Bruno was tried for heresy by the Roman Inquisition on charges of denial of several core Catholic doctrines, including eternal damnation, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and transubstantiation. Bruno's pantheism was also a matter of grave concern, as was his teaching of the transmigration of the soul. The Inquisition found him guilty, and he was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo de' Fiori in 1600.

    Copied from Wikipedia because I am too lazy to type it.

  20. Alright, let's do this one more time.

    Ptolemy's model was scientific. It was based on an impressive body of observational data, and included mathematical systems that accurately predicted future positions of celestial objects.

    Copernicus' model was not scientific. Copernicus' model used circular orbits, and was highly inaccurate as a result. It flew in the face of centuries of observational evidence and failed to be predictive. It was only after several other major thinkers had significantly transformed Copernicus' model that heliocentrism became equally as accurate as Ptolemaic geocentrism.

    It is important to remember that science is a social construct distinct from the physical reality it describes. There are multiple accurate ways of describing things. The fact that we consider heliocentrism to be more accurate than geocentrism is an interesting historical jumping-off point that can awaken questions not just about why societies choose one accurate system over another, but about why we choose systems at all. Asking why the church tried to silence Galileo and others reveals a whole host of questions about power, culture, and society. Asking why we in the 21st century are so derisive of geocentrism reveals most of the same questions with different answers. Simply saying that Galileo was right and the simpleminded, anti-science Church couldn't accept the facts is simply bad historical practice. It limits inquiry into how society worked in the distant past, but even worse it fails to examine the power relations in the present and the recent past that have produced and reproduced the science vs. church narrative we all learn in k-12. John actually came close to this when discussing the fact that scientists were interested in things like alchemy and astrology, but chose to look at it from the perspective of "scientists often pursued incorrect things and still do" rather than seriously asking "why were scientists interested in things that seem, to us, so preposterous".

    To be clear, I am not anti-heliocentrism or anti-science. Both are useful. We just need to have the right perspective towards them, and it's doubly important when we're discussing them in the context of social sciences and humanities.

  21. 10:14 This made me think of a bit of dialogue which comes near the end of the Saul Bass short film, “Why Man Creates” (which I heartily recommend, even though it now looks rather dated):
    “Well, we’ve hit a blank wall for now. The line of investigation we’ve been pursuing seems to have led nowhere, but that’s the nature of the process: You get what you think is a marvelous idea and it just doesn’t pan out.”

    “How long have you been working on this problem, Dr. Wheeler?”

    “Seven years.”

    “What are you going to do now?”

    “I don’t know.”

  22. Wait did no one catch 1992? My child was born in 1993 I am almost certain we knew the Earth revolved around the Sun.

  23. The bashing of christianity, based on the idea that it was and is keeping us and progress back, is short sighted. Aside of all the other cultural improvements that a judueo christian culture generates for a population, the current science would not exist. The people that were in fact prosecuted, were not simply prosecuted for there scientific beliefs. To say that is very short sighted. However it is still in any way a negative side of christanity, where those who go against the main stream religious beliefs will get some backlash.

    If you would study history, it is not hard to see that the organised church layed the foundation for modern science. At first they culturaly united a large part of the middle east and the whole of europe. Thereby creating a huge network of communicating organisations. Which layed the foundations for written language, including the english language, which you are reading right now. You could say that the organised church was a big copying machine that generated languages. And thereby people who can read and write in that language.

    And there is much more but I got to go. Stop bashing christanity, or come up with some proper critique.

  24. Lol, I'd like to blame today's technological advances for my short attention span, but I think it's just my curiosity pinging all over the place. That said, I love these crash course vids, because it's like consuming a lot of info in a bite sized format. Not to mention, it tends to answer enough of things I'm curious about, while allowing to be exposed to others that might not have crossed my radar…yet. Either way, if curious enough, I know I can look to expand my knowledge based on info taken from what I picked up here, so thanks for posting and keep up the good work.

  25. That is not the pope but Venice's doge (oligarchical ruler), but you guys of thoughtbubble are still great

  26. Wow, John your voice has really changed since those first crash course vids hasnt it? Guess that's time for ya. Boom! Youtube History

  27. The Catholic Church did NOT teach geocentrism. The Catholic Church used the teachings of scientists and philosophers of earlier eras (who happened to be geocentrists) to discuss religious and philosophical matters. Relying on others for a working model of the physical universe is very different from declaring your own. Let's at least try to not be so biased, please.

  28. All this would have been Impossible if Indian Scientists/Thinkers didn't Invent the Zero and the Modern Numerals and Numerical System.

  29. John I've always loved history and you seem to make even the boring bits entertaining, please dont ever stop.

    Wondering where the next video is, I need my fix 🙁

    And I would also like to comment that I would love to see crash course tackle art history

    Peace

  30. I am not a patron but maybe this comment will inspire one.

    Crashcourse Music Theory.
    Or maybe just music since music history is also very interesting.
    From how our system of notes works to chord notation and what chords work with what scales.

  31. Great video as usual! There's just a little type that I would like to point out. At 8:22, we can read that Descartes' birth year is 1569, whereas he was born in 1596.

  32. Lotta people seem to be trying to justify the church burning a dude to death for his views in these comments.

  33. When did we prove that the earth moved? There were several discoveries in the 19th century that demonstrated the earth velocity was zero.

  34. At least two things off here:

    1. It was not the Catholic Church that taught that the universe was geocentric, but rather science as a whole at the time, which was Aristotelian in nature. The heliocentric view of the Earth was a challenge to the whole scientific establishment as it existed and it was threating to uproot Aristotelianism which was not just the dominant school of thought but also connected ALL knowledge to one worldview, and the threat was to disconnect astronomy and physics from the rest of knowledge. So Galilei's heliocentrism, while true, was opposed by most scientists at the time, who were scientists just as much as Galilei.

    2. It wasn't the case that geocentric model was completely false and Galilei discovered the fact of heliocentrism either. The geocentric model was a modified Ptolemaic model which gave correct predictions. Essentially it posited the Sun orbiting the Earth, but then having the other planets orbiting the Sun, resulting in a correct but very complex model. Galilei's heliocentric model was more efficient and required less corrective measures.

  35. At about the 7:40 mark the several pictures of the domed object are of the same experiment dealing with the power of a vaccuum. There was created a copper orb of two halves that was cut into two halves then connected back together through suction and attempted to be pulled apart through various means. The most notable of which was the two teams of horses that attempted to pull it apart in equal but opposite directions only to fail before the onlookers were stunned to see the orb be separated by a casual mallet blow along the seal line

  36. I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect
    has intended us to forgo their use.

    ― Galileo Galilei, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina

  37. the fact that smart people in the 1700th practised alchemy should not be taken to infer, as John suggests around 10.30, that (smart) people today also do ignorant stuff. Wouldn't it be more interesting to understand how that practice of alchemy was experienced and done as a sensible practice in those times – to try to understand the meaning those people gave to the continuous transformations of materials around them, in a way that does not fit our current world view?

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