In this article, we will explore the life and feats of three very important people: René Descartes, Francis Bacon and Galileo Galilei. Why I’m joining all of these three important names in one article? Because they all worked to one common thing: The Scientific Method.
This is the 9th article of The Beginning of Physics series. If you didn’t read the previous part you should read it, especially because I have talked about Galileo Galilei’s life in more detail: The Beginning of Physics: Galileo Galilei (Part-8)
If you are new then I will suggest you to read this series from the first part: The Beginning of Physics: The Presocratics (Part-1)
Galileo and The Scientific Method
Since I have already wrote an article about Galileo, I won’t take too long to speak about his life. Born in 1564, Galileo has been called the “Father of Modern Physics”, “Father of Observational Astronomy”, “Father of Modern Science” and finally “Father of The Scientific Method“. Yes, he was a big deal.
Due to his father, Vincenzo Galilei, which was a musician but still a science enthusiast, Galileo was unable to believe in any theory, unless it was experimentally verified by him. This annoyed his teachers. But this’s basically the base for the scientific method: you test a theory via experimentation. Galileo once said that “The mark of a true scientist was independent confirmation.”
If an experiment was different then his own views, he would simply change them according to what the experiment ‘said’. In order to prove his theories, he would make the same tests in different places and different days. This’s inductive reasoning: if a rock falls to the ground at 9.8 m/s2 in China, Italia and Bolivia, it will probably do the same thing in Alaska and New Zeland.
Bacon and Utopian Science
Francis Bacon was born in 1561 in England and he’s also considered one of the fathers of The Scientific Method.
He didn’t like the Aristotelian way of making science (rationally rebating about a theory), arguing that science should help the people via technological advances. So if Bacon came here, he would probably just hate string theorists.
In his book New Atlantis, Bacon proposes the creation of a super university called Salomon’s House. Here, a place that existed via the state, people would make experiments to create theories, others would travel around the world to know other culture’s inventions and others would extract facts via the reading of books.
Upon the hierarchy where the Interpreters of nature which would create axioms and the Dowry Men which found practical applications for those axioms. This, in my opinion, is indeed quite a beautiful idea.
Do you know this guy? Yes, you do, it’s the guy who said “I think therefore I am” (or “cognito ergo sum”). He also the dude who bridges algebra and geometry. We call that the Cartesian plane. It is really a big deal.
Born in 1596, Descartes was a famous philosopher, mathematician and scientist. Although he was a french, he lived most of his life in the Dutch Republic. He did so because he thought his revolutionary ideas wouldn’t bother the Dutch so much. But he was very wrong and ended up moving 24 times to stay ahead of government agents.
He, as Galileo before, thought that mathematics could describe everything in the Universe. And thought that every motion in the universe could be attributed to the motion of an invisible sea of “corpuscles”. He made the same thing with every other problem: divide a big problem into small easy problems.
Also, he created a method for proving if your knowledge was valid or not: systematic doubting. This goes well with what Bacon and Galileo said: Don’t trust other theories just because other said so. Try it yourself. When in doubt, doubt yourself.
We will explore more of the evolution of physics in the next part and the persons who made it possible! Please tell me what did you think of this article in the comments!