The concept of a scientific revolution taking place over an extended period emerged in the eighteenth century in the work of Jean Sylvain Bailly, who saw a two-stage process of sweeping away the old and establishing the new. The beginning of the Scientific Revolution, the Scientific Renaissance, was focused on the recovery of the knowledge of the ancients; this is generally considered to have ended in 1632 with publication of Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. The completion of the Scientific Revolution is attributed to the "grand synthesis" of Isaac Newton's 1687 Principia. The work formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation thereby completing the synthesis of a new cosmology. By the end of the 18th century, the Scientific Revolution had given way to the "Age of Reflection."
Great advances in science have been termed "revolutions" since the 18th century. In 1747, Clairaut wrote that "Newton was said in his own lifetime to have created a revolution". The word was also used in the preface to Lavoisier's 1789 work announcing the discovery of oxygen. "Few revolutions in science have immediately excited so much general notice as the introduction of the theory of oxygen ... Lavoisier saw his theory accepted by all the most eminent men of his time, and established over a great part of Europe within a few years from its first promulgation."
In the 19th century, William Whewell described the revolution in science itself—the scientific method—that had taken place in the 15th–16th century. "Among the most conspicuous of the revolutions which opinions on this subject have undergone, is the transition from an implicit trust in the internal powers of man's mind to a professed dependence upon external observation; and from an unbounded reverence for the wisdom of the past, to a fervid expectation of change and improvement." This gave rise to the common view of the Scientific Revolution today:
The Scientific Revolution is traditionally assumed to start with the Copernican Revolution (initiated in 1543) and to be complete in the "grand synthesis" of Isaac Newton's 1687 Principia. Much of the change of attitude came from Francis Bacon whose "confident and emphatic announcement" in the modern progress of science inspired the creation of scientific societies such as the Royal Society, and Galileo who championed Copernicus and developed the science of motion.
In the 20th century, Alexandre Koyré introduced the term "scientific revolution", centering his analysis on Galileo. The term was popularized by Butterfield in his Origins of Modern Science. Thomas Kuhn's 1962 work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions emphasized that different theoretical frameworks—such as Einstein's relativity theory and Newton's theory of gravity, which it replaced—cannot be directly compared.