During the nineteenth century the things we recognize as the sciences formed and acquired their great cultural authority. The sciences developed in contexts shaped by the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the sweeping social and cultural changes of the century. Historians of science over the past forty years have come to see sciences not as something independent and distinct from culture and social life — but as integral to other social concerns and as part of culture itself.

Some of the major transformations which occurred across the Victorian period were: the change from "natural philosophy" and "natural history" to "science," the shift from gentlemen and clerical naturalists to, for the first time, professional "scientists," the development and eventual diffusion of belief in natural laws and ongoing progress, secularization, growing interaction between science, government and industry, the formalization of science education, and a growing internationalism of science. The Victorian age also witnessed some of the most fundamental transformations of beliefs about nature and the place of humans in the universe. —

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Last modified 6 December 2008