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ix. Scientific Inventions and Discoveries
Some of the essential discoveries and inventions of the Modern Age that helped to modernize the lives of the people were:
Invention of the (Mariner’s) magnetic compass: This instrument was used by navigators. It helped them to locate their direction right in the middle of the sea. As this compass marked the two poles (north and south), it helped them to choose the correct direction. Traders and travelers in the Middle Ages had no means to conduct their sea travels through safe courses. Due to the invention of the magnetic compass, an era of adventurous navigation began.
The Invention of gun powder: With the making of gunpowder, the art of warfare in Europe was modernized. This helped kings to strengthen their defense provisions. It made the crown independent and reduced the dependency of the crown on nobles.
The Art of Printing: Soon after Europe entered the Modern Age, the art of modern printing was discovered. Due to this, the scope of education broadened, and very soon modern learning reached every corner of Europe. Acquiring knowledge became easier and a ground for the latest ideas was created. This helped to bring about changes in almost all walks of human life.
1.1b Factors that brought about the Renaissance
When Europeans came into contact with the Arabs, who were more learned and highly educated then the Europeans, they gained knowledge of astronomy, astrology and mathematics. The Arabs also taught Greek philosophy. Europeans learned this scientific and logically based knowledge of the Arabs and expanded their knowledge of these subjects. This basic knowledge was understood, translated and transmitted to the local folks of Europe by the learned scholars of Europe. This caused a wave of modern thought and a spirit of inquiry among the Europeans (who were in the process of transition).
A number of social and political thinkers emerged. They were staunch believers in scientific research and logical facts. They pleaded against the supremacy and authority of the Church, which till then had played an important role in the lives of the people. These thinkers were against the forceful beliefs of the old literature, which was out of the intellectual reach of ordinary man. This Church literature could only be interpreted by priests and learned scholars of Latin language.
Roger Darber was one such thinker who stressed that one should accept something as true only if it were proved by scientific facts and logical understanding. He appealed for free thought and desired to liberate mankind from conservative ideas. There were many other thinkers like him who devoted their lives whole-heartedly to the search of facts.
It was scientifically proved that the position of the Sun was fixed and definite and that planets (like the earth) moved around it. Due to this new idea, astronomers were severely punished by religious authorities who termed them ‘irreligious’ and inaccurate. The Church prosecuted them and they were also severely punished.
With the invention of the modern printing technique a revolution in learning and writing was caused in Europe. Paper was introduced and affordable books were printed in Europe. Now even a lay person in Europe could get knowledge about modern knowledge, learning and ideas. Besides these, even the ‘Holy Bible’ was translated by these thinkers in many local languages of Europe. As a result, religious texts became accessible to lay persons without the help of the priests. The supremacy of the Church reduced and people were made to think in the light of modern developments. This created a lasting impression on the minds of the people.