Science in the Enlightenment

An Encyclopedia

by William E. Burns


Among many extraordinary inventions and discoveries were electricity and bifocals from Benjamin Franklin and the oil-burning lamp and chemical elements by Sir Humphry Davy. It was an age of brilliant and eccentric people, including Carolus Linnaeus, whose system of classification led him to identify the rhinoceros as a rodent, and combustion expert Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, who lost his head during the Reign of Terror.

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Cover image for Science in the Enlightenment

November 2003


Pages 355
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Science/General
  • Hardcover



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    Hardcover: £73.00/79,00€/A$121.00

The first introductory A–Z resource on the dynamic achievements in science from the late 1600s to 1820, including the great minds behind the developments and science's new cultural role.

Though the Enlightenment was a time of amazing scientific change, science is an often-neglected facet of that time. Now, Science in the Enlightenment redresses the balance by covering all the major scientific developments in the period between Newton's discoveries in the late 1600s to the early 1800s of Michael Faraday and Georges Cuvier.

Over 200 A-Z entries explore a range of disciplines, including astronomy and medicine, scientists such as Sir Humphry Davy and Benjamin Franklin, and instruments such as the telescope and calorimeter. Emphasis is placed on the role of women, and proper attention is given to the shifts in the worldview brought about by Newtonian physics, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier's "chemical revolution," and universal systems of botanical and zoological classification. Moreover, the social impact of science is explored, as well as the ways in which the work of scientists influenced the thinking of philosophers such as Voltaire and Denis Diderot and the writers and artists of the romantic movement.


  • Over 200 A–Z entries on scientific disciplines, organizations, instruments, events, practices, and cultural influences during the period
  • Over 40 illustrations present some of the inventions and instruments of the age


  • Reviews developments in a broad range of scientific disciplines as well as the impact of science on religion, art, literature, and politics
  • Takes a global rather than a narrow European approach to science in the period
  • Includes entries that recognize the contributions of women in science
Author Info

William Earl Burns is a professional historian living in Washington, D.C. He is the author of ABC-CLIO's The Scientific Revolution and has written articles for the ABC-CLIO World History website.



"Intended for people in high school, college, and beyond . . . this volume fills a need, as there is little published that is devoted to this particular era of scientific discovery. This would be a useful resource for high school, college, and large public libraries."Booklist

"This book is a very useful addition to any collection with a need to cover the history of science during this formative age."American Reference Books Annual

"Most libraries will want the book in the reference collection. Recommended. All collections."Choice

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