From the Discovery of Oxygen to Coffee Shops

Johnson presents three different models in the history of science, which are progressive history, paradigm shifts, and ecosystem theory. Progressive (Great man) history exposes the creation and spread of new ideas. Ideas can be formed by factors such as class struggle, evolution of capital, and technological innovations. Political movements surround themselves with peer networks that further education, journalism, medicine, improve government, etc. These changes are made in the interest of progressing the nation forward, and furthermore socializing the culture to act or become a certain way, effecting the outcome of historical change. Paradigm shift (Kuhnian) history is when the main or initial dominant paradigm that was accepted by the scientific community is proven wrong by new scientific phenomena and creates a new theory or paradigm. This type of history is focused on the concept that the scientific process does not happen in a linear fashion. This causes historical change due to the fact that when a major belief or concept is proven wrong, the course of the future would reset and cause different outcomes or events to take place. Ecosystem theory is when we examine people’s relationships with society through nature. Johnson claims that Ecosystem science, “is a discipline that by nature is built out of the layered interactions between multiple fields of expertise, including microbiology, chemistry, botany, geology and atmospheric physics.” An example is the discovery of oxygen. The general consensus that mammals need oxygen to breathe made the discovery of oxygen easily comprehensible by the majority population. But existence of carbon dioxide on the other hand, was not as apparent until much later according to Johnson. It took longer to understand that carbon dioxide is required for plants to maintain a crucial role in the ecosystem. In the year 1771, Priestley discovered that healthy green plants create good clean air. He conducted tests by burning a candle in a jar, using up all the “good air,” and then growing a mint plant in the bad air. After a little over a week, he lit another candle and it burned without a problem. He found that the plant had restored the good air, which is now called oxygen. He proved that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the air through photosynthesis by using ecosystem science and changed the course of scientific history in the process. Coffee house culture is a more modern example of ecosystem theory, because the invention of the coffee house was one of the first places where people from various lines of work would get together and talk about different issues. They created a new sense of community, and launched forward a new age of inter-relationships between human being and prompted the formation of a progressed society.

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