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We left the Greek age of genuine scientific inquiry. Now we live in the Roman age of technology utilization. If you remember well, after Greeks, there were no great scientific ideas for 1600 years.

Last year a book was published, The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why It Had to Be Reborn by Lucio Russo. It is a scientific, albeit pretty speculative, work about the "Cambrian" (or rather Hellenestic) explosion of scientific knowledge at 100-200 B.C. This was happening in the time window between the conquests of Alexander the Great and the Roman expansion. The book argues that Alexander brought educated but impractical Greeks in touch with more ancient nations with better developed technology and economy. This gave the following results:

  1. Mathematical theories were being formulated in the axiomatic-deductive fashion. (Euclides!)
  2. Serious scientific methodoly was invented: Reality and theoretical models are detached; deductions are done within the model; results are applied to reality via the appropriate correspondence.
  3. Existing technology was vastly improved. (For example, Archimedes!)
The problem is that there are very few authentic sources from that time left. For example, Romans destroyed almost all libraries. Hellenian texts were being rewritten and compiled, but the most interesting methodological works were probably ommitted (because too few people could understand them). Therefore the author has to speculate a lot, but he does that convincingly.
by das monde on Sun Aug 21st, 2005 at 08:55:11 PM EST

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