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The Documents

Science, Culture, and Society

Theme Description

If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. —Isaac Newton

Curiosity. It’s what drives us to question assumptions, explore new worlds, and experience the joy of discovery. It’s this natural curiosity coupled with a confidence in empirical knowledge that developed into the science we have today. But the contemporary scientific approach didn’t happen overnight. Numerous philosophers, scientists, and engineers thought about these issues. They gave us, through their works, their own unique solutions and approaches.

Some of the “giants” championed the Scientific Revolution, an era that transformed the way people saw the world. These scholars challenged the status quo—they altered ideas in physics, astronomy, and biology; in scientific investigation; and in the more widely held picture of the universe. Their work was bold, a threat to government and religious structures at the time. For the first time, human intellect and creativity were seen as trustworthy, and to some degree, human experience was a reliable base on which to build knowledge. It was the foundation for modern science, a system based on reason and empirical knowledge.

Today we stand on the shoulders of these great thinkers to see just how far we’ve come. Modern science is only a refinement and extension of the work of brilliant, curious people—like those featured in this exhibit.

Sponsored by the Madge Rothschild Foundation