Learn about the new science of biology, chemistry, and materials and what these advances are enabling.
- The Renaissance, French for rebirth, was born in Florence, Italy in the 1300's and later spread to many parts of Europe. It was a cultural revolution that spanned almost 300 years, and had significant influence in areas as diverse as art, music, politics, religion, science, and intellectual inquiry. There are many theories on it's origin, but certainly a conducive political climate, a new view of life after the devastating black plague, global trade which made many Florentines wealthy, the Medici banking family and their interest in funding the arts, and the sourcing of ideas from afar, were all contributing factors.
The opening of libraries to the public, effectively enabled access to knowledge, encouraged learning and new thinking. Leonardo DaVinci, sometimes known as the father of modern science uniquely combined the popularity of art at the time with drawings of scientific areas, like medical dissection and aerodynamics. While many leaps in science were achieved during this time, in areas such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering; notable was the development of the scientific method, the process of observation, experimentation and then determination of a hypothesis.
The spread of these ideas to other countries, fundamentally shifted the human view of the world. And set in motion the circumstances for the scientific revolution. What resulted was rapid accumulation of knowledge that began to extend beyond just a few countries. It would take until the 19th century for scientific knowledge to assimilate to the rest of the world. In the late 1600's a new scientific and cultural period began that is sometimes called the Age of Reason, but more often is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment.
It lasted for around 200 years and overlapped with the first Industrial Revolution. The Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment were the scientific precursors to the first Industrial Revolution. The Age of Enlightenment embraced the idea that the human experience could be improved through rational change. It lead to remarkable new inventions and scientific discoveries. It was the period of Isaac Newton, Voltaire, and later Thomas Jefferson.
It occurred across Europe and also in the United States. The ideals of the Enlightenment were the basis of both the French and American Revolutions during this time. Although these periods were often brutal in terms of war, revolutions, and human tragedy, the legacy of these defining ages is ultimately attributed to 20th century Modernism. Now we find ourselves with a network that connects almost four billion people and counting.
Relative global peace, remarkably easy access to knowledge, significantly improved living conditions, and a set of ground breaking tools, such as 3D printers. Powerful computer processing power has accelerated discoveries that are catalyzing scientific innovation. As we unlock the secrets of the human body and brain we're making medical breakthroughs that hold a promise to fight major illnesses, from cancer to diabetes, Alzheimers and heart disease.
We will see synthetic biology that will enable us to build our own biological parts. We are already using a process called CRISPR to conduct gene editing and therapy. In material science we are developing new, strong and light materials such as graphene. Advances in battery technology is enabling longer lasting electric storage that will enable long-distance electric vehicles, electric aircraft, and the real possibility of sustainable, 100% self-generated home-power through solar panels and power storage batteries.
Improved materials, innovation, lower costs, and corporate economic prosperity is also ushering in a new golden age of space exploration. Once limited to a few governments and their space programs, space has become a viable platform for a large number of private participants. Just as NASA efforts produced additional Earth-bound benefits for all of humankind, more players in the space arena can only magnify the benefits for our home planet.
The Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment created the modern scientific era. It led to the first, second, and third Industrial Revolutions. And now breakthroughs in science, as a result of all these upheavals and the existence of the technological, socio-economic and cultural conditions, means the fourth Industrial Revolution will be a wave strongly defined by them too. Plus, the magic is amplified when the physical sciences intersect with the digital world.
When the atoms meld with bits, that's when it gets really interesting.
- History of the four industrial revolutions
- What has changed in science and culture
- Core technologies: AI, Internet of Things, and more
- Impact of the fourth industrial revolution
- Taking action