Greatest Scientists of the 17th Century


The 17th century witnessed major changes in the field of science and philosophy. Because before the beginning of the 17th century, scientists and scientific studies were not really recognized. But in the middle of the 17th century, newly invented machines began to emerge and it slowly became part of the people’s daily and economic life. And by the end of the century, the scientific revolution had taken hold and it established itself as a society-shaping force. But none of it would be possible without the smart and curious minds of the greatest scientists of the 17th century.

1. Isaac Newton

A world-renowned mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and alchemist, Sir Isaac Newton is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential scientist of all time. One of his greatest works is the development of modern physics which he wrote in his book “Philosophiae, Naturalis, Principia Mathematica”. His book tackled about the concepts of universal gravitation and laws of motion. He also developed the theory of color in which he stated that color is an intrinsic property of light and when its refracted, transmitted, or scattered, it can be decomposed into numerous colors.

2. Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist and mathematician who formed the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities. He was the son of a talented mathematician and he grew in an intellectually stimulating environment. That’s why he showed signs of intelligence at an early age. When he was only sixteen years old, he wrote a noteworthy treatise about projective geometry. He also began building calculating machines during his teenage years because he wanted to help his father in calculating taxes.

3. Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke was an English polymath, scientist, and architect. He is known for the major contributions he made to science using his theoretical and experimental work he did in the 17th century and in re-building London after the Great Fire. He also built a compound microscope and used it for his work to observe the smallest and hidden details of the world.

4. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek

Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek was a famous scientist who pioneered research works and helped the emergence of microbiology. That’s why he is also known as the “Father of Microbiology”. But his scientific research happened to be a mere coincidence. Antonie was a businessman who started his own linen business. And during his search for a high-quality magnifying lens which he will use for inspection of the threads used in the linen, he ended up creating a lens that can magnify up to 500 times. From there, Antonie used his lens to make several significant discoveries that led to the evolution of microbiology.

5. Robert Boyle

Boyle was an Anglo-Irish chemist, physicist, and philosopher who helped develop the modern experimental scientific method. He also made several significant contributions in the field of medicine, natural history, earth sciences, physics, and chemistry.

6. Christiaan Huygens

Huygen’s discoveries played an important role in the most incredible discoveries in physics, astronomy, and math. He is known for a lot of significant discoveries in science like the centrifugal force, pendulum clock, wave theory, and the explanation of Saturn’s rings.

7. Edmond Halley

Edmond Halle was a mathematician and astronomer he is popular for his calculation of the orbit of Halley’s Comet. He also recordedtransit of Mercury and figured out that it has the same transit as Venus which helped him realize that it could be used to determine the size of the solar system.

8. Pierre de Fermat

Pierre de Fermat

Pierre de Fermat was a French mathematician who made contributions in the development of infinitesimal calculus. He is also known for the Fermat’s difference quotient method, Fermat’s theorem, and Folium of Descartes.

9. Evangelista Torricelli

He was a well-known Italian physicist and mathematician. He is known for his invention of the mercury barometer which helped solve the problem of raising the water level by using a suction pump. He also discovered the Torricelli’s law of fluid dynamics, Torricelli’s trumpet, and the foundation of integral calculus.

10. Giovanni Domenico Cassini

Cassini was an Italian astrologer, astronomer, and mathematician. He is famous for discovering the four moons of Saturn. He’s also the first person to observe that Saturn’s rings have divisions which was later named the Cassini division.  Getting a free tarot reading with psychicguild will help you know how tarot cards are used to study your astrological or zodiac signs.

11. Galileo Galilei

Portrait by Justus Sustermans, 1636

Italian astronomer, physicist, and engineer who made fundamental contributions to the fields of observational astronomy and the scientific method. He is primarily renowned for his improvements to the telescope and for being the first to use a telescope to examine and study the skies, which allowed him to find four of Jupiter’s moons and observe Venus’ phases. In contrast to the prevalent Aristotelian view that the Earth was the center of the universe, Galileo’s work supported the Copernican thesis that the Earth and other planets orbit around the sun. He is credited with founding contemporary observational astronomy and playing a significant role in the scientific revolution.

12. Johannes Kepler

German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) created the planetary motion laws. One of the greatest astronomers of all time, he played a significant role in the scientific revolution. Kepler is well recognized for his three planetary motion laws, which explain how planets orbit the sun. According to the first law, the sun is located at one of the two foci of an elliptical planet’s orbit. According to the second law, a planet moves more quickly toward the sun and less slowly away from it. According to the third law, a planet’s average distance from the sun is proportionate to its average period, which is squared. These equations served as a solid foundation for Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation and strongly supported the Copernican notion that the Earth and other planets rotate around the sun.

13. Otto von Guericke

Otto von Guericke, engraving after a portrait by Anselm van Hulle

German physicist Otto von Guericke was also an inventor and politician. He made significant contributions to the Scientific Revolution through his groundbreaking research, the creation of experimental techniques and repeatable demonstrations on the physics of the vacuum, atmospheric pressure, and electrostatic repulsion, as well as his support for the truth of “action at a distance” and “absolute space.”

Von Guericke, a profoundly devout individual who followed the Dionysian tradition, believed that an infinite divinity had created and planned the emptiness of space. As something that “contains all things,” is “more precious than gold, without beginning or end, more blissful than the feeling of abundant light,” and is “similar to the heavens,” von Guericke described this duality.

14. Denis Papin

French scientist, mathematician, and inventor Denis Papin is most known for his work on creating the “Papin cooker,” an early steam engine. He made significant advances to our understanding of pressure and vacuum while also being a trailblazing researcher in atmospheric pressure. Papin is credited with developing the safety valve, which is still utilized in boilers and other pressure vessels, in addition to his work on the steam engine. He is revered as a key player in the development of technology and as one of the founders of the modern steam engine.

15. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

German philosopher, mathematician, and political advisor Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was notable for his work in logic and metaphysics and is best known for developing differential and integral calculus on his own.

16. René Descartes

French mathematician René Descartes is also a scientist and philosopher. He is regarded as the father of modern philosophy because he was among the first to reject Scholastic Aristotelianism, developed the first modern version of mind-body dualism, which is the source of the mind-body problem, and encouraged the growth of new science based on observation and experiment. He built new epistemic foundations on the basis of the intuition that, when he is thinking, he exists; this was stated in the maxim “I think, therefore I am.” He did this by using an original system of methodical doubt to reject apparent knowledge acquired from an authority, the senses, and reason. He created a metaphysical dualism that makes a profound distinction between matter, which is the extension in three dimensions, and mind, which is the substance of which is thinking. Descartes’s physics and physiology, which are based on sensory experience and are mechanistic and empiricist, contrast with his rationalist metaphysics, which is founded on the postulation of innate concepts of mind, matter, and God.

17. William Whiston

William Whiston, an English theologian, historian, natural philosopher, and mathematician who lived from 9 December 1667 to 22 August 1752, played a key role in popularizing Isaac Newton’s theories. He is now arguably best remembered for his crucial translations of the Antiquities of the Jews and other works by Josephus, as well as for his role in the Longitude Act’s instigation in 1714 (and his attempts to obtain the benefits it promised). He wrote A New Theory of the Earth and was a well-known Arianite.

As the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, Whiston succeeded his teacher, Newton. Due to his unconventional theological beliefs, he lost his professorship and was dismissed from the university in 1710. Whiston disagreed with the idea of perpetual agony in hellfire because he thought it was foolish, cruel, and disrespectful to God. His repudiation of the Trinity dogma, which he thought had pagan roots, particularly alienated church leaders.

18. Stephen Hales

Stephen Hales, an English clergyman, made significant advances in a number of scientific disciplines, including physiology, pneumatic chemistry, and botany. He was the first to take a blood pressure reading. A ventilator, a pneumatic trough, and a surgical forceps for the removal of bladder stones are among the other inventions he made. In addition to these accomplishments, he was a philanthropist and the author of a well-known tract on alcoholism.

19. Giovanni Alfonso Borelli

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli was an Italian mathematician, physicist, and physiologist who lived in the Renaissance. By carrying on Galileo’s method of comparing theories to observations, he contributed to the present notion of scientific enquiry. Borelli, a trained mathematician, also conducted in-depth research on the moons of Jupiter, the mechanics of animal locomotion, and the components of blood using microscopy. He also pursued research in geology and medicine and employed microscopy to examine how plants move their stomata. He benefited from the support of Swedish Queen Christina throughout his professional life.

20. Colin Maclaurin

Scottish mathematician Colin Maclaurin made significant contributions to geometry and algebra. He is also renowned for being a youthful prodigy and for being the youngest professor in history. He is the subject of the Maclaurin series, a subseries of the Taylor series.

His surname is also written MacLaurin due to variations in spelling since that time (his name was originally spelled M’Laurine).

21. Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland

An English nobleman by the name of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, KG. Under James I, Northumberland spent a significant amount of time imprisoned in the Tower of London on the grounds that he may have been involved in the Gunpowder Plot. He was a grandee and one of the wealthiest peers at the court of Elizabeth I. Along with his personal accomplishments, he is well-known for the circles he frequented. He earned the moniker The Wizard Earl thanks to his scientific and alchemical experiments, his love of mapping, and his vast library.

22. John Dee

English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, teacher, occultist, and alchemist John Dee also practiced alchemy. He was Elizabeth I’s court astronomer and counselor, and he devoted a lot of his time to hermetic philosophy, divination, and alchemy. He was an antiquarian and at the time owned one of England’s biggest libraries. He is credited with coining the term “British Empire,” and as a political counselor, he promoted the establishment of English colonies in the New World.

Dee subsequently resigned from Elizabeth’s employ and embarked on a quest for a deeper understanding of the occult and otherworldly. He traveled over Europe and allied himself with several suspect characters before being charged with spying for the English king. He discovered his home and library had been vandalized when he got back to England. The location of his grave is unknown; however, he later rejoined the Queen’s service before being rejected when James I replaced her. He passed away in London’s squalor.

23. Christopher Wren

One of the most renowned English architects in history, Sir Christopher Wren PRS FRS was also a mathematician-physicist, anatomist, astronomer, and geometer. He was given the job of rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London following the Great Fire in 1666. His masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral on Ludgate Hill, which was finished in 1710, is regarded as his finest work.

24. Marin Mersenne

French polymath Marin Mersenne produced works in several different fields. Among mathematicians, he is arguably best known for the Mersenne prime numbers, which have the form Mn = 2n-1 for some integer n. He also created Harmonie universelle, a landmark book on music theory for which he is known as the “father of acoustics,” and Mersenne’s rules, which define the harmonics of a vibrating string (such as those seen on guitars and pianos). As a professed Catholic priest with extensive links in the scientific community, Mersenne has been referred to as “the post-box of Europe” and “the center of the world of science and mathematics throughout the first half of the 1600s.” He also published and gave lectures on theology and philosophy. He was a member of the Minim monastic order.

25. Robert Fludd

Famous English Paracelsian physician Robert Fludd, also known as Robertus de Fluctibus, had interests in both science and the occult. He is remembered as a Qabalist, Rosicrucian, mathematician, cosmologist, and astrologer.

For his compilations on occult philosophy, Fludd is most known. He and Johannes Kepler engaged in a well-known discussion about the hermetic and scientific approaches to knowing.

26. Jan Baptist van Helmont

From Brussels, Jan Baptist van Helmont was a scientist, physiologist, and doctor. He was active in the years following the advent of iatrochemistry and Paracelsus, and he is frequently referred to as “the inventor of pneumatic chemistry.” Van Helmont is best known today for his theories on spontaneous generation, his five-year willow tree experiment, and his introduction of the scientific term “gas” (derived from the Greek word chaos).

27. Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit

Science instrument manufacturer, inventor, and physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit FRS. Born in Poland to a family of German extraction, he later went to the Dutch Republic at age 15, where he lived the rest of his life. He was a forerunner of precise thermometry and created the Fahrenheit scale and mercury-in-glass thermometer, which helped build the groundwork for the modern era of precision thermometry.

28. Francesco Redi

Italian physician, naturalist, biologist, and poet Francesco Redi. He is referred recognized as the “father of contemporary parasitology” and the “creator of experimental biology.” He was the first person to dispute the hypothesis of spontaneous generation by establishing that maggots come from eggs of flies.

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