Questions tagged [science]

Part of human activity related to gaining, classifying and improving knowledge about the world. There exist commonly adopted rules and requirements to make a method scientific. The history itself is one of humanity sciences.

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88
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9answers
24k views

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

There seems to be almost a consensus that the medieval belief on flat earth is a myth. Wikipedia even has a whole article dedicated to this subject, and the general argument is that the "flat earth ...
87
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10answers
53k views

Why does the United States keep using “old” date representations and imperial system, while being in the minority?

Other than the US (and a few other countries), the vast majority of countries use International System of Units (SI). Celsius temperature scale. DMY or YMD date format¹. 24-hour clock when written². ...
68
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4answers
12k views

Did ancient peoples ever hide their treasure behind puzzles?

I just saw the film Dora and the Lost City of Gold, in which there is a somewhat meta running commentary over whether so-called "jungle puzzles", intellectual challenges typically requiring explorers ...
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17answers
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What were the reasons for the Renaissance / scientific revolution in Europe?

One of the common reasons given for the Renaissance and the subsequent scientific revolution is the rediscovery of classical works by scholars in Europe and the social change that the study of those ...
54
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9answers
4k views

History of scientific regression [closed]

Throughout history, humans have made many subtle and many substantial scientific advancements. Humans have explored, examined, learned, applied and at times seemingly "forgotten" and/or were unable ...
51
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4answers
38k views

Did Albert Einstein really receive this rejection letter from the University of Bern?

I saw this image on Facebook and I usually take what's posted there with a grain of salt. I have reversed image searched and googled, but with no luck. I'm curious about the authenticity surrounding ...
37
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1answer
9k views

Why did the Royal Society in 1771 believe that a continent further south than Australia should exist?

In reading the wikipedia article on Captain Cook's 2nd voyage, I noticed the comment: Despite this evidence to the contrary, Alexander Dalrymple and others of the Royal Society still believed that ...
33
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2answers
6k views

Why would graphite have been confused with lead?

I was reading the wikipedia page for pencil, and came across an interesting fact: Prior to 1565 (some sources say as early as 1500), a large deposit of graphite was discovered on the approach to ...
27
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6answers
9k views

What was the first Solar Eclipse that was demonstrably predicted in advance?

There is a famous story going back to Herodotus according to which Thales of Miletus predicted the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC, which interrupted a battle. Given that we have not a single ...
25
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4answers
2k views

Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's?

I've just listened to the short BBC News audio podcast clip How British academics spied on the superpowers: Tim O’Brien from the Jodrell Bank radio telescope discusses 50 year old recordings which ...
23
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2answers
2k views

Did pre-Columbian Americans know the spherical shape of the Earth?

The Maya are known for their astronomy and mathematics, most notably their famous calculation of the length of a year. I was surprised to learn that they supported a flat Earth model, though to be ...
23
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3answers
5k views

Did the Ancient Egyptians understand the importance of the brain?

I remember hearing recently that new research has suggested that the ancient Egyptians did not view the brain as a useless organ, and had a reason for disposing of it in the manner they did. I can't ...
22
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2answers
3k views

What is the name of the theory that says an early discovery can stop technological development?

Some time ago I read a claim that an early discovery can lead to a great scientific stagnation. The example given was the Chinese porcelain, that resolved all the known problems, and stopped the ...
22
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3answers
4k views

Why was Newton's observation of the falling apple significant?

As described in this article at Wikipedia, in 1666, Newton was in a garden when he noticed an apple falling. Surely, Newton could not have been the first person to notice that things fell when dropped....
21
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1answer
27k views

Who discovered first that the Moon does not have its own light?

Who (and when) discovered first that the Moon does not have its own light?
20
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6answers
4k views

How accurately could ancient astronomers find latitude and longitude?

In classical times, say, 200 BC to 400 AD, how accurately could an astronomer determine their latitude and longitude? Could they find their position to the nearest degree? Minute? Second? I'm ...
19
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3answers
917 views

Before European influence circa 1600, did any Chinese believe the Earth was spherical, and did they ever try to measure it?

The Pythagorans, Aristotle, and Eratosthenese believed the Earth was spherical. Eratosthenes made a measure based on shadows at two cities on the same meridian. An Indian mathematician, Aryabhata, ...
18
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3answers
6k views

What did the top minds of the late 17th century have to say about Salem witch trials?

I think of Newton, Hooke, Leibniz, Wren, Locke -- assuming they knew hard to believe they would not have thought it crazy but I have read nothing about Newton, et al saying anything.
18
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4answers
6k views

Did the Tamil People discover that the earth was round 2000 years ago?

I heard "Tamil People found that the earth was round 2000 years ago. They named the planets 2000 years ago." Is this true? The Tamil poet Manikkavachakar wrote about the earth in Tiruvacakam: By ...
18
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1answer
2k views

How wide-spread was antisemitism in the USA during WWII?

Richard Feynman writes in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, chapter Who stole the door, that: At MIT the different fraternities all had "smokers" where they tried to get the new freshmen to be ...
18
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2answers
2k views

How could Eratosthenes measure the circumference of the Earth?

Some 2,200 years ago, Eratosthenes calculated the radius of the Earth. A brief recap Plant a stick in the ground vertically, and wait until the sun is directly above the stick, that is until ...
18
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1answer
2k views

Was there any theological opposition to the lightning rod?

Apparently, there was some opposition to the lightning rod at the time of its invention because lightning was seen as "the wrath of God" and should not be controlled. I'd like to find some citations ...
16
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1answer
1k views

Where was Carl Sagan working on a plan to detonate a nuke on the Moon? Where was he applying when he leaked it?

At 18:49 in Scott Manley's video The Craziest Things You Can Do With Nuclear Weapons he says: This was an idea to… it was a number of ideas; they thought it could raise morale with the US. The idea ...
15
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3answers
1k views

In the first half of 20th century, how was gold inspected for authenticity?

Let's say this for the years 1900 - 1950, before we had modern analysis tools. When trade payments were made in gold, how was the gold inspected for quality? How did they assess the purity of gold, ...
15
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5answers
2k views

When was it discovered that the stars are not all lying on the same plane?

In Ptolemy and Copernicus' systems, the stars were believed to rest upon a single plane, the 'celestial sphere'. People thought they were all the same distance away from earth. Kepler's insight was ...
15
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1answer
4k views

What were the responses to Copernicus' heliocentric theory?

Popular explanations often mention that the "Catholic Church" had a problem with Copernicus and his heliocentric theory, neglecting that even a scientific disagreement at that period would likely have ...
14
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3answers
5k views

What happened in 1914 that ended the golden age of microbiology?

I was reading a microbiology textbook and all it said was "The work that began with Pasteur started an explosion of discoveries in microbiology. The period from 1857 to 1914 has been appropriately ...
14
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3answers
797 views

How did the “Standard Model” physics theory get that name?

I want to know how the Standard Model theory got such "generic" name. (I've made this question in Physics StackExchange, but it was considered off-topic, and someone suggested to reask it here.)
14
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1answer
478 views

What happened to the undergrad students who attended the Feynman Lecture Series in 1961-63?

In the academic years of 1962-2 and 1962-3, Richard Feynman gave his celebrated series of lectures to a cohort of undergraduate physics students at Caltech. It has been claimed, probably tongue in ...
13
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2answers
3k views

Why did Stalin deem Quantum Mechanics 'counter-revolutionary'?

I've read that in the late 1940s Stalin planned to hold a conference to discuss the ideological difficulties of physics in the Soviet Union, but called it off (presumably because of the successful ...
13
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4answers
4k views

Why was decimal time unsuccessful?

Under the metric system (and later SI), units of weight can be related to each other based on multiples of ten (e.g. 1 metric tonne = 1,000 kg = 1,000 × 1,000 g). Likewise with length (e.g. 1 ...
12
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4answers
2k views

How did the Egyptian engineers of the Third and Fourth Dynasty construct the Pyramids and Sphinx without modern science and mathematics? [closed]

How did the Egyptian engineers of the Third and Fourth Dynasty construct the Pyramids and Sphinx without modern science and mathematics? What was the "state of the art" in engineering, science, and ...
12
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1answer
4k views

Origin of scientific racism?

Modern scientific racism became wide spread during the age of enlightenment. Is there a single person that could be labeled as the 'father' of modern scientific racism?
12
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3answers
659 views

Was Nazi science that involved human experimentation ever actually used for anything?

There is a rather ferocious debate about using Nazi human experimentation and whether citation should be given for obvious ethical reasons. What I noticed however is that most of the research on ...
12
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7answers
1k views

The Needham Question: What stunted China's technological and proto-scientific advancement?

According to Joseph Needham Why did modern science, the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, with all its implications for advanced technology, take its meteoric rise only in the West at the ...
12
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2answers
929 views

As many Germans fled Nazism, did some spies mix in?

Many German citizens fled Germany in the 1930s to escape persecution or discrimination. Some among them got jobs in the industry, or other potentially sensitive positions. Albert Einstein obtained ...
12
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2answers
4k views

Did Andrew Jackson think the earth was flat?

You will occasionally see references to the possibility that Andrew Jackson believed the earth was flat. One source for this claim is a well-respected history of the period by Edward Pessen: [James]...
12
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1answer
272 views

Was the State of Indiana's legislation changed to fix the value of Pi?

Is the following an anecdote? Mathematicians describe Pi as an irrational number, that is, a number that cannot be expressed as the ratio of any two integers. This was an irksome fact to the State ...
12
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1answer
536 views

Did any Chinese scholars propose a heliocentric model?

After this related question, I now want to ask about the heliocentric model. Did any Chinese scholars propose a heliocentric model of the universe? The time period I'm interested is any time before ...
11
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2answers
602 views

Have the current polar ice caps receded further than those that existed before the beginning of the last Ice Age?

Has science been able to determine from the geologic record how our current ice caps compare to those that existed before before the beginning of the last Ice Age? If so, how do they match up? (I ...
11
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1answer
320 views

What was the early understanding of static electricity shocks?

What was the common understanding of electric shocks caused by static electricity in the ancient world and middle ages? I'm talking about the shock when you touch something on a dry day for example. ...
11
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1answer
361 views

When did man understand the science of hail?

I am asking this question intrigued by the fact that in certain religious books (mostly Arabic) it is stated that rain and hail comes from the sky (heaven) and not from Earth. They probably did not ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Is there any science behind this graph that suggests we'd be exploring new galaxies if not for the dark ages?

I stumbled on this "graph". While it is clearly a dank meme, I was wondering if there was any actual science behind it: Is there anywhere a measure of scientific discovery per unit time? Do we have ...
10
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4answers
512 views

When did scientists first postulate that Earth's atmosphere might have an upper limit?

In plenty of myths and stories from ancient (and not-so-ancient) history, people are able to fly or climb all the way up to the "dome of the sky," breathing all the way. But even once science had ...
10
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1answer
988 views

What corrections did the Catholic church make to the Copernicus work “De revolutionibus”?

Catholic encyclopedia says: On 5 March, 1616, the work of Copernicus was forbidden by the Congregation of the Index "until corrected", and in 1620 these corrections were indicated. Nine sentences, ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Did Archimedes have any students?

We know that Archimedes learnt a lot from his father, Phidias (who was an astronomer) and most likely studied in Alexandria, alongside other great contemporaries such as Eratosthenes of Cyrene and ...
10
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0answers
217 views

Are there any references to entombed animals in Ancient India?

The 13th century Hindu philosopher Arulnandi Shivacharya wrote a work called the Shiva Jnana Siddhiyar, which among other things contains a refutation of Buddhist philosophy. In this excerpt, various ...
9
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1answer
290 views

How were heavier objects weighed in antiquity/middle ages?

How were heavier objects weighed in antiquity or the middle ages? Were balances simply scaled up in size with appropriately larger weights? Did people know how much an elephant or even an ox actually ...
9
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2answers
706 views

What happened to all the scholars and scientists of Western Rome during the barbarian invasions?

We know that the dawn of the age of Renaissance and the dusk of the Middle Ages were accelerated by the fall of Byzantine Empire and the transfer of a big chunk of "Ancient Knowledge" from Greece to ...
9
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1answer
452 views

When did home weather thermometers become popular/common?

Today we look online to determine the weather. When I was little, I remember people had big thermometers hanging outside, or suctioned to the outside of, for example, the kitchen window. But when did ...