Role of Print Media in Scientific Revolution

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  • Topic: Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Heliocentrism
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  • Published : January 16, 2011
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In the 13th century a rediscovery of Greek and Roman literature occurred across Europe that eventually led to the development of the humanist movement in the next century. In addition to emphasizing Greek and Latin scholarship, humanists believed that each individual had significance within society. The growth of an interest in humanism led to the changes in the arts and sciences that form common conceptions of the Renaissance.

Revival of ideas spread through print
The 14th century to the 16th century – during which time printing process was invented and which led to pace up the print media communication - was a period of economic flux in Europe; the most extensive changes took place in Italy. After the death of King Frederick II in 1250, emperors lost power in Italy and throughout Europe; none of Frederick's successors equaled him. Power fell instead into the hands of various popes.

During the Renaissance small Italian republics developed into dictatorships as the centers of power moved from the landed estates to the cities. Europe itself slowly developed into groups of self-sufficient compartments. At the height of the Renaissance there were five major city-states in Italy: the combined state of Naples and Sicily, the Papal State, Florence, Milan, and Venice. Science

Beginning in the latter half of the 15th century, a humanist faith in classical scholarship led to the search for ancient (hand-written) texts that would increase current scientific knowledge. Among the works rediscovered were Galen's physiological and anatomical studies and Ptolemy's Geography. Botany, zoology, magic and astrology were developed during the Renaissance as a result of the study of ancient texts. Since printing techniques were available, it made the task of sending the old research still safe in hand written texts, to scholars living distant countries. Scientific thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo and Johannes Kepler attempted to refine earlier thought on astronomy. Among Leonardo's discoveries were the revelation that thrown or shot projectiles move in one curved trajectory rather than two; metallurgical techniques that allowed him to make great sculptures; and anatomical observations that increased the accuracy of his drawings. The work done on old ideas kept appearing in books printed in different countries.

In 1543 Copernicus wrote De revolutionibus, a work that placed the sun at the center of the universe and the planets in order around it; his work was an attempt to revise the earlier writings of Ptolemy. Galileo's most famous invention was an accurate telescope through which he observed the heavens; he recorded his findings in Siderius nuncius [starry messenger]. Galileo's Dialogo...sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo [dialogue concerning the two chief world systems] (1632), for which he was denounced by the pope, resulted in his living under house arrest for the rest of his life. Tycho Brahe gave an accurate estimate of planetary positions and refuted the Aristotelian theory that placed the planets within crystal spheres. Kepler was the first astronomer to suggest that planetary orbits were elliptical.

Printing technique was now helping the scholars in the west greatly who produced books one after the other to create a mark on the thinking of people about the physical things and the motion of moons and stars. These were the initial phase when the world was about to embark on mass communication through the printed words.

Humanism in Renaissance rhetoric was a reaction to Aristotelian scholasticism, as espoused by Francis Bacon, Averroës, and Albertus Magnus, among others. While the scholastics claimed a logical connection between word and thought, the humanists differentiated between physical utterance and intangible meditation; they gave common usage priority over sets of logical rules. 66

The humanists also sought to...
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