Scientific and Technological Events from 1600 C.E. to 1699 C.E.

© Copyright Andy Pepperdine, 2007 - 2009

Some of these entries need cross-checking against more citations.


Science events

Political events


Gilbert publishes De Magnete suggesting that the Earth is a giant magnet, among other observations.


Galileo works out the laws of falling bodies, but does not publish. Realises the use of experimentation in refining theory.


Dutch glass workers invent the telescope. Lipperhey applies for a patent on it. Quickly improved and used by Galileo.


Kepler publishes Astronomia nova stating that planets move in ellipses.


Galileo publishes Siderius Nuncio describing the sky as seen through a telescope, including four moons of Jupiter.


Kepler invents the "astronomical" telescope using two lenses.


Napier publishes Mirifici logarithmorum canonis descriptio (latin) or (English translation), giving the first description of his invention, logarithms, quickly followed by an improvement suggested by Briggs.


Kepler publishes Harmonices mundi libri giving all of his three laws of planetary orbital motion.

c. 1620

Someone, probably Drebbel, invents the microscope but it's not certain who.


Francis Bacon describes the scientific method in his Novum Organum, updating that of Aristotle.


Snell discovers sine law of refraction, but it was not published until Huygens did so in 1703.


Schickard invents the first known mechanical calculating machine, which Kepler used when working on his astronomy.


Harvey publishes Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus describing the circulation of blood and the workings of the heart.


Oughtred publishes Clavis Mathematicae introducing the sign for multiply (×). About this time, he also invented the slide rule and circular slide rule.


Vernier announces his scale for making accurate measurements in La Construction, l'usage, et les propriétés du quadrant nouveau de mathématiques.


Descartes publishes a treatise, one of whose appendices, La Géométrie, establishes the link between algebra and geometry.


Wallis establish the science of cryptography by decoding a Royalist message for the Parliamentarians.

British civil war breaks out.


Perier conducts an experiment at top and base of Puy de Dome to show that atmospheric pressure was holding up mercury in an evacuated tube, first proposed by Torricelli.


Commonwealth established by Cromwell and parliament.


Henri de Montmor starts the first scientific society for discussion of recent developments and discoveries. He laid down the rules for civilised debate.  [1]


Fermat and Pascal jointly found the theory of probability.

ca 1655

Fermat finds his Principle of Least Time, that light chooses the path that minimises the time taken, to explain both reflection and refraction. This assumes that the speed of light is constant in a given medium.


Official foundation of the Royal Society.

Restoration of monarchy in Britain


Boyle publishes The Sceptical Chymist, starting the modern basis for chemistry, and defining his law relating pressure and volume of a gas.


Newton retires to Woolsthorpe to avoid the plague and establishes all his main results in two years there, but publishes much later. He created the integral and differential calculus, the laws of motion, gravity, and found that white light can be split into a spectrum.


Oldenburg edits the first issue of Philosophical Transactions, later taken over by the Royal Society.

Hooke publishes his Micrographia giving results of using his compound microscope, including an accurate description of the process of fossilisation. He also defined Hooke's Law of elasticity, and many inventions, including more accurate mechanical escapements for clocks.


Cassini notes discrepancies in his data for the motion of Jupiter's moons. He suggested that this was due to light travelling at a finite speed. Cassini discarded this theory. See also 1676.


Olaf (or Ole) Rømer used Cassini's data from 1668 to propose and develop a theory that the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, and to give the first plausible estimate for it.

Leibniz had, in manuscript form, invented the modern sign for an integral, and found the principal rules of differential calculus.


Halley observes a transit of Mercury, and uses it to make an estimate of the size of the solar system.


Ray publishes the first classification of plant species in Methodus Plantarum Nova.


Newton publishes Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica or "Principia" giving most of his results.


English Bill of Rights enacted


Savery gets first patent for use of steam power in a practical application, in this case, pumping water out of mines.


[1] P. Moore, Blood and Justice, John Wiley, 2003, p. 57

© Copyright Andy Pepperdine, 2007 - 2009

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