History : Dec 2015-Jan 2016
e A t the University of Oxford, during the first half of the 13th century, an idea took root that would later form the basis of modern scientif- ic research. Its proponent was the philosopher Robert Grosseteste (“big head” in French, a nickname he gained thanks to his excellent memory). He argued that knowledge of the natural world could only be founded on experiment. One of his pupils took this further, paving the way for the scientific method still used today. His name was Roger Bacon, a man of voracious curiosity whose reading of Arabic and other medieval authors helped him propose four phases of scientific inquiry: observation, formulation of a hypothesis, experimentation, and verifica- tion. By following these steps, Bacon developed a theory of optics that led him to be heralded as the designer of the first MEDIEVAL SCIENCE The so-called Middle Ages have been caricatured as a time of barbarism and blind faith in superstition. In reality, ingenuity flourished, as Europe ushered in an era of invention and experimentation.