The past The present The future History of the Earth Geological Time Scales Human evolution A small African ape living around six Ma was the last animal whose descendants would include both modern humans and their closest relatives, the chimpanzees.Very soon after the split, apes in one branch developed the ability to walk upright. Brain size increased rapidly, and by 2 Ma, the first animals classified in the genus Homo had appeared. Modern humans (Homo sapiens) are believed to have originated somewhere around 200,000 years ago or earlier in Africa; the oldest fossils date back to around 160,000 years ago. By 11,000 years ago, Homo sapiens had reached the southern tip of South America, the last of the uninhabited continents. Civilization Throughout more than 90% of its history, Homo sapiens lived in small bands as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Cultural evolution quickly outpaced biological evolution, and history proper began. Somewhere between 8500 and 7000 BC, humans in the Fertile Crescent in Middle East began the systematic husbandry of plants and animals: agriculture. Development of Science Agriculture had a major impact; humans began to affect the environment as never before. Surplus food allowed a priestly or governing class to arise, followed by increasing division of labor. This led to Earth’s first civilization at Sumer in the Middle East, between 4000 and 3000 BC. Additional civilizations quickly arose in ancient Egypt, at the Indus River valley and in China. Sumer The history of Sumer spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BC, ending with the downfall of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2004 BC, followed by a transition period of Amorite states before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BC. Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, ruling 126 years, according to the Sumerian king list, placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. Egypt By about 6000 BC, organized agriculture and large building construction had appeared in the Nile Valley. Between 5500 and 3100 BC, during Egypt's Predynastic Period, small settlements flourished along the Nile, whose delta empties into the Mediterranean Sea. By 3300 BC, just before the first Egyptian dynasty, Egypt was divided into two kingdoms, known as Upper Egypt, and Lower Egypt. The historical records of ancient Egypt begin with Egypt as a unified state, which occurred sometime around 3150 BC. Egypt – Old Kingdom The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as spanning the period of time when Egypt was ruled by the Third Dynasty through to the Sixth Dynasty (2686 BC – 2134 BC). The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known, however, for the large number of pyramids, which were constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places.Sneferu is believed to have commissioned at least three pyramids; while his son and successor Khufu erected the Great Pyramid of Giza, Sneferu had more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh. Khufu, his son Khafra, and his grandson Menkaura, all achieved lasting fame in the construction of their pyramids. The beginning of writing Around the 4th millennium BC writing process first evolved from economic necessity in the ancient near east. The clay tokens were used to represent commodities, and perhaps even units of time spent in labor, and their number and type became more complex as civilization advanced. A degree of complexity was reached when over a hundred different kinds of tokens had to be accounted for, and tokens were wrapped and fired in clay, with markings to indicate the kind of tokens inside. These markings soon replaced the tokens themselves, and the clay envelopes were demonstrably the prototype for clay writing tablets. … to 2000 BC The Egyptian calendar, the first known based on 365 days (12 months of 30 days and 5 days of festival) is possibly instituted as early as 4241 BC Babylonians predict eclipses (2900 BC) The Great Pyramid of Giza is built as a tomb for Khu-fu (2800 BC) Units of length, weight and capacity are legally fixed in Mesopotamia (2400 BC) A form of soldering to join sheets of gold is used by the Chaldeans in Ur (2400 BC) Positional notation is developed in Mesopotamia; unlike most other systems, the Sumerian system has a base of 60 instead of 10 (2400 BC) Mesopotamian cultures learn to solve quadratic equations; that is, equations in which the highest power is two (2000 BC) The World in 2000 BC Minoan Civilization in Crete Old Babylonia in Mesopotamia Harappa Period in India Middle Kingdom in Egypt Xia Dynasty in China Olmec Civilization in Mesoamerica Assyria Assyria was a kingdom centered on the Upper Tigris river, in Mesopotamia (Iraq) During the Old Assyrian period (20th to 15th centuries BC), Assur controlled much of Upper Mesopotamia and parts of Asia Minor. In the Middle Assyrian period (15th to 10th centuries BC), its influence waned and was subsequently regained in a series of conquests. Babylonia Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia, with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged when Hammurabi (fl. ca. 1696 – 1654 BC, short chronology) created an empire. Hammurabi is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi's Code, one of the first written codes of law in recorded history. These laws were written on a stone tablet standing over eight feet tall (2.4 meters) that was found in 1901. Hittites The "Hittites" were an ancient Anatolian people who spoke a language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in northcentral Anatolia ca. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height ca. the 14th century BC. After ca. 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent city-states. Under Muwatallish (1306-1282), they fought the Battle of Kadesh (1298 BC) against Rameses II and won. … to 1000 BC Around 1750 BC, under Hammurabi, star catalogs and planetary records are compiled. Around 1700 BC, the Phoenicians are writing with a 22-letter alphabet. Around 1600 BC, the zodiac is identified by Chaldean astrologers. Around 1050 BC, the Duke of Chou in China builds the first magnetic compass. Old Babylonian astronomy Planetary theory The first civilisation known to possess a functional theory of the planets were the Babylonians. The oldest surviving planetary astronomical text is the Babylonian Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, a 7th century BC copy of a list of observations of the motions of the planet Venus that probably dates as early as the second millennium BC. The Sumerians, predecessors of the Babylonians who are considered to be the first civilization and are credited with the invention of writing, had identified at least Venus by 1500 BC. Shortly afterwards, the other inner planet Mercury and the outer planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were all identified by Babylonian astronomers. 1000 BC In Israel, David is the king Egypt is a minor power Alphabet is developed by the Phoenicians Midas is the king in Phrygia Dorians invaded Greece Chou Dynasty in China Median Empire The Medes were an ancient Iranian people who lived in the northwestern portions of present-day Iran. During the deciding battle of the war between the Medes and Lydians, a sudden solar eclipse took place. Both armies took this as a sign from the gods and they made peace. The chief result is that the date of this aborted battle is the earliest event in human history that we can confidently say happened on a particular day, and no other. That day was May 28th, 585 BC. Persian Empire Persian Empire (ca. 550–330 BC), was the successor state of the Median Empire. The empire took its unified form with a central administration erected by Cyrus the Great. It was during the reign of Darius I that Persepolis was built (518– 516 BC) and which would serve as capital for several generations of Achaemenid kings. Darius I attacked the Greek mainland, which had supported rebellious Greek colonies under his aegis; but as a result of his defeat at the Battle of Marathon, he was forced to pull the limits of his empire back to Asia Minor. Etruscans Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in an area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. Their origin is unknown. But one hypothesis is that by 1000 BC, refugees of the Phyrigian invasion from Asia Minor had reached the western shores of Italy and settled there. According to tradition the Roman Republic was established around 509 BC, when the last of the seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed, and a system based on annually elected magistrates and various representative assemblies was established. A constitution set a series of checks and balances, and a separation of powers. The most important magistrates were the two consuls, who together exercised executive authority as military command. The consuls had to work with the senate, which was initially an advisory council of the ranking nobility, or patricians, but grew in size and power. Greece In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages. From about the 9th century BC written records begin to appear. By 800 BC, Homer had written the Iliad and Odyssey. By the 6th century BC several cities had emerged as dominant in Greek affairs: Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. Each of them had brought the surrounding rural areas and smaller towns under their control, and Athens and Corinth had become major maritime and mercantile powers as well. … to 500 BC In 763 BC, the Babylonians record a solar eclipse, the oldest eclipse recorded. Around 580 BC, Pythagoras is born on Samos. Around 570 BC, Greek philosopher Xenophanes speculates that because fossil sea shells are found on the tops of the mountains, the surface of Earth must have risen and fallen in the past, one of the earliest ideas of earth science. Around 500 BC, Pythagoreans are killed and dispersed by a mob in Croton, and Pythagoras flees to Tarentum. The Presocratics: Introduction If we define physics as the study of matter and changes in matter, then we may search for its origins in a tradition of critical debate established by the presocratic natural philosophers who lived in early Greek colonies scattered, for the most part, around the Aegean Sea, before the time of Socrates. With the exception of the Pythagoreans, presocratic speculations in natural philosophy were distinct from the mathematical approach to interpreting nature in the astronomy of the ancient Near East. To appreciate the presocratics, we should keep in mind something of (i) the geography of the Aegean, (ii) their significance for the history of science, and (iii) their social and religious cultural contexts. Geograpy Significance of the Presocratics What is nature? For the Babylonians, natural phenomena such as the motions of the heavens were signs of the will of the gods, to be interpreted for the benefit of the king and empire. For the presocratics, natural phenomena were the result of some abstract first principle, a divine principle on which everything else depended but which itself did not depend upon anything else. We have noted their divine first principles: Thales of Miletos: Water - Monism (related to the mythological Okeanos?) Anaximandros of Miletos: Apeiron - Monism Anaximenes of Miletos: Air - Monism Herakleitos of Ephesos: Fire – Monism (Logos) Parmenides of Elea, Zenon of Elea, Melissos of Samos: It, The One - Monism, Plenism, Rationalism, Necessitarianism, Sufficient Reason, Akinesis, Eternity of the World Leukippos of Miletos and Demokritos of Abdera: Atoms + Void - Pluralism, Void Anaxagoras of Klazomenai: All in All - Radical Pluralism, Teleology (Nous) Empedokles of Akragos: Roots (earth, air, fire water) - Moderate Pluralism, Tychism (Love and Strife) Greece Athens and Sparta would soon have to become allies in the face of the largest external threat ancient Greece would see until the Roman conquest. After suppressing the Ionian Revolt, a rebellion of the Greek cities of Ionia, Darius I of Persia, King of Kings of the Achaemenid Empire, decided to subjugate Greece. His invasion in 490 BC was ended by the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon under Miltiades the Younger. After this war Athens and Sparta fought for a long time for a hegemony in Greece. These wars weakened both of them. The weakened state of the heartland of Greece coincided with the Rise of Macedon, led by Philip II. Alexander, son and successor of Philip, continued the war with Persians. Alexander defeated Darius III of Persia and completely destroyed the Persian Empire, annexing it to Macedon and earning himself the epithet 'the Great'. Hellenistic Greece After the death of Alexander his empire was, after quite some conflict, divided amongst his generals, resulting in the Ptolemaic Kingdom (based upon Egypt), the Seleucid Empire (based on the Levant, Mesopotamia and Persia), the kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor and the Antigonid dynasty based in Macedon. Rome Roman Republic was established around 509 BC. The Romans gradually subdued the other peoples on the Italian peninsula, including the Etruscans. In the second half of the 3rd century BC, Rome clashed with Carthage in the first of three Punic Wars. These wars resulted in Rome's first overseas conquests, of Sicily and Hispania, and the rise of Rome as a significant imperial power. After defeating the Macedonian and Seleucid Empires in the 2nd century BC, the Romans became the dominant people of the Mediterranean Sea. Syracuse Syracuse has been inhabited since ancient times and had a relationship with Mycenaean Greece. Hiero II seized power in 275 BC. Hiero inaugurated a period of 50 years of peace and prosperity, in which Syracause became one of the most renowned capitals of Antiquity. Under his rule lived the most famous Syracusan, the mathematician and natural philosopher Archimedes. Among his many inventions were various military engines, later used to resist the Roman siege. Hiero's successor, the young Hieronymus (ruled from 215 BC), broke the alliance with the Romans. The Romans besieged the city in 214 BC. The city held out for three years, but fell in 212 BC. It is believed to have fallen due to a peace party opening a small door in the wall to negotiate a peace, but the Romans charged through the door and took the city, killing Archimedes in the process. … to 380BC... … around 500 BC Pythagoreans teach that Earth is a sphere and not in the shape of a disk... … around 480 BC Greek philosopher Oenopides is believed to be the first to calculate the angle that Earth is tipped wrt the plane of its orbit, his value was 24 degrees … … around 450 BC Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus suggests that there is a central fire around which the Earth, sun, moon and planets revolve, he also believes that Earth rotates … … around 390 BC Plato founds a school in a grove on the outskirts of Athens; since the groove once belonged to the hero Academos, the school is named the Academy... … around 390 BC Greek astronomer Heracleides suggests that Venus and Mercury may orbit the sun... … around 380 BC Democritus recognizes that the Milky Way consists of numerous stars, that the moon is similar to Earth, and that matter is composed of atoms... … to 300 BC ... … around 370 BC Aristotle discovers that free fall is an accelerated form of motion, but believes that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter bodies... … in 352 BC Chinese observers report a supernova, the earliest known record of such a sighting... … around 330 BC Kiddinu of Babylon works out an early version of the precession of the equinoxes... … in 334 BC Aristotle founds the Lyceum in Athens... … in 318 BC Prince Xuan establishes in the capital of the Qi state in China an academy of scholars... … around 300 BC Euclid's Elements summarizes and organizes the mathematical knowledge developed in Greece; it includes information on plane and solid geometry and the theory of numbers; it will be the basic textbook in mathematics for the next 2000 years... Aristotle Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates, Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics. Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship, and their influence extended well into the Renaissance, although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the zoological sciences, some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the 19th century. … to 140 BC ... … around 270 BC Aristarchus of Samos challenges Aristotle's teachings by asserting that the sun is the center of the solar system and that the planets revolve around the sun; he estimates the distance of the sun from Earth by observing the angle between the sun and the moon when it is exactly half full... … around 250 BC the Mo Ching, a collection of writings by followers of Mo-tzu, contains a clear statement of the first law of motion later formulated by Newton... … in 240 BC Chinese astronomers observe Halley's comet in its first known recorded visit... … around 240 BC Eratosthenes of Cyrene (Libya) calculates the circumference of Earth from the difference in latitude between Alexandria and Aswan and finds a figure 46,000 km close to the present value... … in 165 BC Chinese astronomers record sunspots, probably the first accurately dated record... … around 150 BC Hipparchus of Nicea draws up a listing of fixed stars and discovers the precession of the equinoxes... Roman Republic Meanwhile the slaves sometimes rose in rebellion. The first rebellion lasted from 135 to 132 BC when slaves in Sicily rebelled. Sicilian slaves rebelled again in 103 BC but they were crushed in 99 BC. Finally Spartacus led a rebellion of Italian slaves in 73 BC. However the rebellion was crushed in 71 BC. In the first century BC the Roman republic slowly broke down and power was increasingly in the hands of successful generals. In 60 AD another powerful general, Gnaius Pompey formed a triumvirate with two other men Crassus and Julius Caesar. The triumvirate only lasted about one year but it was renewed in 56 BC. However Crassus died in 52 BC and Pompey was made sole Consul. Meanwhile the third member of the triumvirate, Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. His military victories made him very popular with his men. However in 49 BC the Senate voted that Caesar should give up command of the army and return to Rome without his troops. Caesar refused and instead marched on Rome. Roman Empire Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. After his death Gaius Octavius (Octavian), Julius Caesar's great-nephew, Octavian became the first Roman emperor (in all but name). In 27 BC he was granted the title 'Augustus'. The Roman republic was at an end. Augustus kept the senate but he held the real power. He controlled the army and the civil service. Augustus managed to restore order to the Roman empire and when he died in 14 AD it was peaceful and prosperous. Diocletian split the empire into two halves, western and eastern. Constantine united them in 324 but they split again after his death. Gradually there was less and less co-operation between the two halves. … to 70 AD ... … around 130 BC, Hipparchus uses a total eclipse of the sun and parallax to determine correctly the distance to and the size of the moon... … around 100 BC, the Chinese begin to use negative numbers... … in 56 BC, De rerum natura (On the nature of things) by Lucretius Titus is written... … around 10 AD, Liu Hsin is the first person known to have used a decimal fraction... … around 50 AD, Pliny the Elder writes Naturalis historia, a work of 37 volumes summarizing all that is known in his time about astronomy, geography and zoology... … in 79 AD, Pliny the Younger writes the first detailed account of the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii... … in 79 AD, Pliny the Elder died of asphyxiation while observing an eruption of Mount Vesuvius... Migration Period The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions was a period of human migration that occurred roughly between AD 300 to 700 in Europe, marking the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. These movements were catalyzed by profound changes within both the Roman Empire and the so-called 'barbarian frontier'. Migrating peoples during this period included the Huns, Goths, Vandals, Bulgars, Alans, Suebi, Frisians, and Franks, among other Germanic and Slavic tribes. The Almagest Almagest is the Latin form of the Arabic name of a mathematical and astronomical treatise proposing the complex motions of the stars and planetary paths, originally written in Greek by Ptolemy of Alexandria, Egypt, written in the 2nd century. Its geocentric model was accepted as correct for more than a thousand years in Islamic and European societies through the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The Almagest is the most important source of information on ancient Greek astronomy. The Almagest has also been valuable to students of mathematics because it documents the ancient Greek mathematician Hipparchus's work, which has been lost. Hipparchus wrote about trigonometry, but because his works have been lost mathematicians use Ptolemy's book as their source for Hipparchus' works and ancient Greek trigonometry in general. … to 600 AD ... … around 190 AD, Chinese mathematicians use powers of ten to express numbers... … around 300 AD, the Maya develop the day-count calendar; this calendar dates events back to 3000BC... … in 497 AD, Aryabhata recalculates Greek measurements of the solar system; although the mostly accepts Ptolemy's scheme of the universe, he also puts forward the idea that Earth rotates... … in 529 AD, the Academy and the Lyceum, the schools started by Plato and Aristotle at Athens, are closed by the emperor Justinian... th 7 Century Arab Empire Muslim conquests (632–732) also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, of non-Arab peoples began after the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun (The Rightly Guided Caliphs) and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power. Expansion of Islam End of th 8 Century End of th 9 Century End of th 10 Century … to 1000 AD ... ... around 690, the first uses of a "goose-egg" sign for zero appear in Cambodia and Sumatra, although the Chinese had longed used an empty space as a placeholder and later Mesopotamian numeration also used a sign as a placeholder; it is not clear when 0 comes to be understood as a number and not just a placeholder... ... around 830, Al-Khowarizmi's Al-jabr wa'l muqabalah, known in the West as Algebra, gives methods for solving all equations of the first and second degree with positive roots... Islamic Science 610-700 There are several rules in Islam which lead Muslims to use better astronomical calculations and observations. The first issue is the Islamic calendar. The other issue is moon sighting. Islamic months do not begin at the astronomical new moon, defined as the time when the moon has the same celestial longitude as the sun and is therefore invisible; instead they begin when the thin crescent moon is first sighted in the western evening sky. In approximately 638 A.D, Caliph Umar introduced a new lunar calendar based on the Islamic viewpoint. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Islamic Science 700-825 This period was most notably the period of assimilation and syncretization of earlier Hellenistic, Indian and Sassanid astronomy occurred during the 8th and early 9th centuries. Historians point out several factors that fostered the growth of Islamic astronomy. The first was the proximity of the Muslim world to the world of ancient learning. Much of the ancient Greek, Sanskrit and Middle Persian texts were translated into Arabic during the 9th century. This process was enhanced by the tolerance towards scholars of other religions. Another impetus came from Islamic religious observances, which presented a host of problems in mathematical astronomy. In solving these religious problems the Islamic scholars went far beyond the Greek mathematical methods. Islamic Science 825–1025 The period throughout the 9th, 10th and early 11th centuries was one of vigorous investigation, in which the superiority of the Ptolemaic system of astronomy was accepted and significant contributions made to it. Astronomical research was greatly supported by the Abbasid caliph al-Mamun. Baghdad and Damascus became the centers of such activity. The caliphs not only supported this work financially, but endowed the work with formal prestige. th 11 Century In the history of European culture, this period is considered the early part of the High Middle Ages. There was a sudden decline of Byzantine power and rise of Norman domination over much of Europe, along with the prominent role in Europe of notably influential popes. In what is now Northern Italy, a growth of population in urban centers gave rise to early organized capitalism and more sophisticated, commercialized culture by the late 11th century. In this century the Turkish Seljuk dynasty comes to power in the Middle East over the now fragmented Abbasid realm, while the first of the Crusades were waged towards the close of the century. th 11 Century Chola-era India and Fatimid-era Egypt, had reached their zenith in military might and international influence. The Western Chalukya Empire (the Chola's rival) also rose to power by the end of the century. In this century the Turkish Seljuk dynasty comes to power in the Middle East over the now fragmented Abbasid realm, while the first of the Crusades were waged towards the close of the century. In Japan, the Fujiwara clan continued to dominate the affairs of state. In the Americas, the Toltec and Mixtec civilizations flourished in central America, along with the Huari Culture of South America and the Mississippian culture of North America. In Ukraine, there was the golden age for the principality of Kievan Rus. In Korea, the Goryeo Kingdom flourished and faced external threats from the Liao Dynasty (Manchuria). In Vietnam, the Li Dynasty began, while in Myanmar the Pagan Kingdom reached its height of political and military power. End of th 11 Century 12th Century Europe undergoes the Renaissance of the 12th century. It included social, political and economic transformations, and an intellectual revitalization of Western Europe with strong philosophical and scientific roots. For some historians these changes paved the way to later achievements such as the literary and artistic movement of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century and the scientific developments of the 17th century. In this century there was a continuous fight between the papacy, Holy Roman Emperor (mostly today's Germany), Norman Italy and the Byzantine Empire. All through this time, the Mongols in the East were uniting their forces for the next century. Science in 12th Century After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Western Europe had entered the Middle Ages with great difficulties. Most classical scientific treatises of classical antiquity, written in Greek, had became unavailable. This scenario changed during the renaissance of the 12th century. The increased contact with the Islamic world in Spain and Sicily, the Crusades, the Reconquista, as well as increased contact with Byzantium, allowed Europeans to seek and translate the works of Hellenic and Islamic philosophers and scientists, especially the works of Aristotle. The development of medieval universities allowed them to aid materially in the translation and propagation of these texts and started a new infrastructure which was needed for scientific communities. 13th Century After its conquests in Asia the Mongol Empire stretched from Eastern Asia to Eastern Europe under Genghis, Ogodai and Kublai Khans. In England, John I was forced to sign the “Magna Carta” (1215), which guaranteed the rights of the nobility and of free-men generally, against encroachment by the arbitrary power of the crown. During the crusades, Constantinople fell to the crusaders and they destroyed all the ancient Greek culture in the last city which preserved it. Science in the 13th Century The most important scholar of the period was Roger Bacon who upheld the principle of experimental science. He attempted to write a universal encyclopedia of knowledge and pointed out the deficiencies of the Julian calendar then being used. Alfonso X, the King of Castille was most famous for sponsoring the publication of planetary motions based on Hipparchus and Ptolemy. The necessary math was so complicated that Alfonso is supposed to have remarked that if God has asked his advise, he would have recommended something much simpler. 14th Century Europe in 1300 was well on the way to rapid expansion. It was rapidly increasing in intellectual and mathematical sophistication. Technically, thanks to water power and the mechanical discoveries that flowed from it, Europe was in the midst of the Medieval Industrial Revolution. One reason there seems to be such a break between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was that there was in fact a break. The 14th Century was a time of turmoil, diminished expectations, loss of confidence in institutions, and feelings of helplessness at forces beyond human control. Two great natural disasters struck Europe in the 14th Century. One was climatic: the Little Ice Age. If the Little Ice Age weakened Europe's agricultural productivity and made life uncomfortable, the Bubonic Plague brought life to a virtual standstill. Science in the 14th Century The first half of the 14th century saw much important scientific work being done, largely within the framework of scholastic commentaries on Aristotle's scientific writings. William of Ockham introduced the principle of parsimony: natural philosophers should not postulate unnecessary entities, so that motion is not a distinct thing but is only the moving object and an intermediary "sensible species" is not needed to transmit an image of an object to the eye. Scholars such as Jean Buridan and Nicole Oresme started to reinterpret elements of Aristotle's mechanics. In particular, Buridan developed the theory that impetus was the cause of the motion of projectiles, which was a first step towards the modern concept of inertia. The Oxford Calculators began to mathematically analyze the kinematics of motion, making this analysis without considering the causes of motion. 15th Century Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, falls to emerging Ottoman Turks, forcing Western Europeans to find a new trade route. Spanish and Portuguese explorations led to first European sightings of the Americas and the sea passage along Cape of Good Hope to India, in the last decade of the century. After this first sightings by Europeans, transportation increased to Europe from America. Native indigenous cultures that lived within the continent of the Americas had already developed advanced civilizations that attest to thousands of years of human presence; sophisticated engineering, irrigation, agriculture, religion and government existed before the arrival of the Spanish and the Portuguese. The Renaissance The 14th century saw the beginning of the cultural movement of the Renaissance. The rediscovery of ancient texts was accelerated after the Fall of Constantinople, in 1453, when many Byzantine scholars had to seek refuge in the West, particularly Italy. Also, the invention of printing was to have great effect on European society: the facilitated dissemination of the printed word democratized learning and allowed a faster propagation of new ideas. But this initial period is usually seen as one of scientific backwardness. There were no new developments in physics or astronomy, and the reverence for classical sources further enshrined the Aristotelian and Ptolemaic views of the universe. Philosophy lost much of its rigour as the rules of logic and deduction were seen as secondary to intuition and emotion.