The Renaissance came about because of a change in the way of thinking. In an effort to learn, people began to want to understand the world around them. This study of the world and how it works was the start of a new age of science.
Science and Art
Science and art were very closely related during this time. Great artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, would study anatomy to better understand the body so they could create better paintings and sculptures. Architects such as Filippo Brunelleschi made advances in math in order to design buildings. The true geniuses of the time were often both artists and scientists. They were both considered talents of the true Renaissance man.
The Scientific Revolution
Near the end of the Renaissance, the scientific revolution began. This was a time of great strides in science and mathematics. Scientists like Francis Bacon, Galileo, Rene Descartes, and Isaac Newton made discoveries that would change the world.
The most important invention of the Renaissance, and perhaps in the history of the world, was the printing press. It was invented by German Johannes Gutenberg around 1440. By 1500 there were printing presses throughout Europe. The printing press allowed for information to be distributed to a wide audience. This helped to spread new scientific discoveries as well, allowing scientists to share their works and learn from each other.
Reproduction of a Gutenberg Printing Press
Photo by Ghw via Wikimedia Commons
The Scientific Method was further developed during the Renaissance. Galileo used controlled experiments and analyzed data to prove, or disprove, his theories. The process was later refined by scientists such as Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton.
Many of the great scientific discoveries made during the Renaissance were in the area of astronomy. Great scientists such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler all made major contributions. This was such a big subject that we devoted an entire page to it. Learn more about it at our page on Renaissance Astronomy.
Both the microscope and the telescope were invented during the Renaissance. This was due to improvements in making lenses. These improved lenses also helped with making eyeglasses, which would be needed with the invention of the printing press and more people reading.
The first mechanical clock was invented during the early Renaissance. Improvements were made by Galileo who invented the pendulum in 1581. This invention allowed clocks to be made that were much more accurate.
There were also inventions that advanced warfare. This included cannons and muskets which fired metal balls using gunpowder. These new weapons signaled the end of both the Middle Age castle and the knight.
Other inventions during this time include the flushing toilet, the wrench, the screwdriver, wallpaper, and the submarine.
Alchemy was sort of like chemistry, but generally wasn't based on a lot of scientific facts. A lot of people thought that there was a single substance from which all other substances could be made. Many hoped to find a way to make gold and become rich.