Looking back through history, people have always wanted to explain how the world works, but they haven't always used scientific theories. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle didn't carry out experiments, but he did try to describe and explain the natural world. After alchemy in the Dark Ages, a more reason-based approach to empirical knowledge was taken by natural philosophers such as Boyle, Newton and Galileo. William Whewell coined the word 'scientist' relatively recently in 1833.

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Who really discovered sunspots?

Humans have known about these solar features for millennia, but it wasn't until a relatively unknown scientist in the 17th Century that we knew their true nature.

Why we still don’t understand sleep, and why it matters

For the first 20 years of his life, Henry Nicholls had a healthy relationship with sleep. Shortly after his 21st birthday, he began to experience symptoms of narcolepsy, a debilitating disorder that’s plagued him ever since. Sleep research is progressing, so why are he and others like him still waiting for a cure?