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This unit examines the explosion of scientific knowledge and reasoning in the 15th and 16th centuries that laid the foundation for the development of the modern world. After the return of Columbus in 1493 with reports of a “New World” unknown to the ancients, and the shattering of the Catholic consensus by Martin Luther in 1517, the announcement by Copernicus on his deathbed in 1543 that the universe was not centered around the earth was the third and most unsettling blow to more than a thousand years of traditional wisdom. These new developments nourished an air of skeptical inquiry spread far and wide by the printing press. The primary method for understanding the world slowly shifted from simply accepting ancient authority and traditional teachings, to observation, measurement and analysis. Both Chapter 15 and the readings from “The Science of Liberty” demonstrate the profound social and political impacts of this new way of thinking.