Breakthroughs In Astronomy And Medicine In The 16T Term Paper

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Breakthroughs in Astronomy and Medicine in the 16th and 17th CenturiesIt was during the 16th and 17th centuries when man's view of the unvierse and himselfchanged drastically. This came after a millenium of repetition and stagnation in thedevelopment of science. People finally began questioning what they were told, and theywent out to find proof rather than assuming on the basis of authority and common sense.These advances in astronomy and medicine came about in the same era, and were notunparallel in their development. In both fields were some very notable people whocontributed greatly to the devolopment in these areas. In the field of astronomyCopernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo shed Aristotle's, Plato's, and Ptolemy's views ofthe universe. In medicine Paraclesus, Vesalius, and Harvey did away with Galen'sancient practices. Ancient Greeks believed that the Earth was stationary, they concluded this bymaking some basic obsevations. One being that the Earth cannot be part of the 'heavens'because celestial bodies are bright points of light, whereas the Earth is a nonluminoussphere of mud and rock. Also in the heavens there is very little change, the same stars arethere night after night, only five planets, the sun, and the moon. On Earth however thingsare constantly changing and reforming. Their senses also told them that the Earth wasn'tmoving. They believed that the air, the clouds, and the birds would all be left behind ifthe Earth spinning around, therefore it couldn't be moving. Also if the Earth werespinning everything would fly off due to the centrifugal force. It was thought that withall this evidence there was no way that the Earth could be moving. There were however a few descrepencies in this Earth stationary or geocentricview. The most apparent being the five planets. They moved unlike anything else, theymoved contrary to the stars and occasionaly went backwards. Ptolemy was able tocorrect this by the use of epicycles. This said that not only do planets orbit the Earth, butthey also have smaller circular moton which they perform during their orbit. This didsolve the problem, but it was still imperfect and very complicated, it was un-Godlike. Nicolaus Copernicus believed in the heliocentric model of the universe. It was hisbelief that the sun was a copy of God, God gave us life and the sun kept us alive. Thisview was also a lot more aesthetically pleasing, although it was still not perfect. Mostother people only looked at his work as being a tool and not reality. This was becausewhen the book was published an introduction was added saying that the contents weren'treally true. Also people didn't observe any shift in the stars throughout the year, whichmeant the world couldn't be moving around the sun because they should shift when

looked at from different sides of the sun. Unless of course they were really far away, butthat didn't make sense because God wouldn't waste that much space. Tycho Brahe spent most of his life studying the movements of the celestial bodies.His calculations led him to create a third view of the universe. He said that the planetsrevolved around the sun, and the sun, moon, and stars revolve around the Earth. It hadthe same flaws as Copernicus' model, but it didn't go against the church. When Tychodied he gave all his calculations to Johaness Kepler. Kepler revised Copernicus's modelof a heliocentric universe. The big difference was that he said that the planets moved inellipses, with the sun at one focus. To account for the planets' motion he said that theymust move a variable speeds. It was Galileo Galilei who came up with the 'proof' for a heliocentric universe. In1609 he pointed a telescope into the sky. He saw four things which made the traditionalview of the universe wrong. He saw new stars which had never been seen before, whichdisproved the idea of stars all being on one heavenly sphere. He saw that the Moon hadcraters which proved that the Earth wasn't the only thing that decayed. The moons ofJupiter hepled explain the Moon. The phases of Venus made the Ptolemaic modelimmposible. The geocentric view had finally been disproven. The Greek physician Galen did remarkable work in the field of human anatomy,despite the fact that he could onyl dissect animals. His works were studied, andconsidered the highest authority on anatomy. Anyone who studied medicine, studiedGalen. Paracelsus, a German physician, said that disease came from external sources. Heargued against the work of Galen and against the church. He, like Copernicus, wentagainst the norm, and preeched what he believed. It was Andreas Vesalius who first went against Galen anatomy. He wrote Dehumani corporis fabrica, an illustrated book which included information he had gatheredfrom performing his own disections. Tycho Brahe who spent his life collecting data,Vesalius collected the information for himself too. William Harvey was able to prove that blood circulated through the body. He alsosaid that the heart was a pump, rather than a heat generating organ. He published On theMotions of the Heart and Blood, which disproved the classic belief of the 'pneuma'physiology. Much like Galileo who gave the proof for the heliocentric world, he gave theproof for the modern view of the human body. These ideas changed the world forever. "The Great Interuption," as DanielBoorstin puts it in The Discovers, was finally over. Man had stopped believingeverything that it was told, and had gone out to prove it for himself. The human bodyand the universe were never looked at the same way again. It only took a few smartpeople, who willing to speak out, to change the world

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