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The Story of Science episode 3 - How Did We Get Here?

The Story of Science episode 3 – How Did We Get Here?

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The Story of Science episode 3 – How Did We Get Here?: The question of our human origins is one of the most controversial science has wrestled with.



 

 

This is the story of how scientists came to explain the beauty and diversity of life on earth, and reveal how its evolution is connected to the long and violent history of our planet. Featuring ocean adventurers, eccentric French aristocrats, mountain climbers, a secret Victorian publisher with 12 fingers, a ridiculed German meteorologist, and only a brief hint of Charles Darwin.

Michael Mosley takes an informative and ambitious journey exploring how the evolution of scientific understanding is intimately interwoven with society’s historical path.

 

The Story of Science episode 3 – How Did We Get Here?

 

Science (from the Latin word scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

The earliest roots of science can be traced to Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in around 3500 to 3000 BCE. Their contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity, whereby formal attempts were made to provide explanations of events in the physical world based on natural causes. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek conceptions of the world deteriorated in Western Europe during the early centuries (400 to 1000 CE) of the Middle Ages but was preserved in the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age.

The recovery and assimilation of Greek works and Islamic inquiries into Western Europe from the 10th to 13th century revived “natural philosophy”, which was later transformed by the Scientific Revolution that began in the 16th century as new ideas and discoveries departed from previous Greek conceptions and traditions. The scientific method soon played a greater role in knowledge creation and it was not until the 19th century that many of the institutional and professional features of science began to take shape; along with the changing of “natural philosophy” to “natural science.”

Charles Darwin

Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding. Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and he was honoured by burial in Westminster Abbey.

Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. By the 1870s, the scientific community and a majority of the educated public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations which gave only a minor role to natural selection, and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.

Darwin’s early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marine invertebrates. Studies at the University of Cambridge (Christ’s College) encouraged his passion for natural science. His five-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell’s conception of gradual geological change, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author.

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The Story of Science episode 3 - How Did We Get Here?
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The Story of Science episode 3 - How Did We Get Here?
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The Story of Science episode 3 - How Did We Get Here?: The question of our origins is one of the most controversial science has wrestled with.