The history of science and technology (HST) is a field of history which examines how humanity's understanding of the natural world (science) and ability to manipulate it (technology) have changed over the millennia. This field of history also studies the cultural, economic, and political impacts of scientific innovation.
Histories of science were originally written by practicing and retired scientists, starting primarily with William Whewell, as a way to communicate the virtues of science to the public. In the early 1930s, after a famous paper given by the Soviet historian Boris Hessen, effort was focused into looking at the ways in which scientific practices were allied with the needs and motivations of their context. After World War II, extensive resources were put into teaching and researching the discipline, with the hopes that it would help the public better understand both science and technology as they came to play an exceedingly prominent role in the world. In the 1960s, especially in the wake of the work done by Thomas Kuhn, the discipline began to serve a very different function, and began to be used as a way to critically examine the scientific enterprise. At the present time it is often closely aligned with the field of Science studies.
Modern mathematical science and physical engineering as it is understood today took form during the scientific revolution, though much of the mathematics and science was built on the work of the Greeks, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Chinese, Indians and Muslims.
History of science
Science is a body of empirical and theoretical knowledge
, produced by a global community of researchers, making use of specific techniques for the observation and explanation of real phenomena, this techne summed up under the banner of scientific method. As such, the history of science draws on the historical methods of both intellectual history and social history. Forms of science first developed from practical concerns and from philosophical investigations of nature.
Though contributions to the development of the scientific method have been made since antiquity, the origin of the modern scientific method is also a complicated subject that is controversial. Ibn al-Haytham
) in his Book of Optics from circa 1000 recorded important
contributions to the development of what would come to be known as science many centuries later. Science is a relatively recent word, whereas for centuries natural philosophers did the work which one might now reasonably call early science. The modern scientific method was not fully developed until the Scientific Revolution, which was initiated by the Scholastic universities of 13th century Europe, and its height during the 16th and early 17th century saw a greater use of the modern scientific method to guide the evaluation of knowledge
. The development of the scientific method is considered to be so fundamental that some — especially philosophers of science and practicing scientists — consider earlier inquiries into nature to be pre-scientific. Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those inquiries.
The history of mathematics
, history of technology
, and history of philosophy
are covered in other articles. Mathematics is closely related to, but distinct from science (at least in the modern conception)
concerns the creative process of designing useful objects and systems, which differs from the search for empirical truth.
Philosophy differs from science in that, while both the natural and the social sciences attempt to base their theories on established fact, philosophy also enquires about other areas of knowledge, notably ethics. In practice, each of these fields is heavily used by the others as an external tool
The history of technology
is the history of the invention of tools and techniques
for doing practical things. Its modern history is intimately related with the history of science, as the discovery of new background knowledge
has enabled us to create new things, and conversely, many scientific endeavors have become possible through technologies which assist humans to travel to places we could not otherwise go, and probe the nature of the universe
in more detail than our natural senses allow.
Technological artifacts are products of an economy, a force for economic growth, and a large part of everyday life. Technological innovations affect, and are affected by, a society's cultural traditions. They also are a means to develop and project military power.