1500 in science

1500 in science

The year 1500 CE in science and technology included many events, some of which are listed here.


By the end of the 15th century, about 35,000 different books have been published and printed. The total number of copies produced is estimated at 20,000,000 About 77 percent of the books are in Latin while 45 percent deal with religion. See also 1440 Communication.

Johannes Trithemius of Spanheim [b. 1462, d. Würzburg (Germany), 1516] writes Steganographia ("hidden writing"). Copies of the manuscript circulate for a hundred years. See also 1474 Mathematicsm, and 1553 Communication.

Earth science

Leonardo da Vinci, who found many fossils in canal building sites, proposed that fossil shells of marine animals were found on mountains because Earth undergoes transformations that cause areas once submerged under water to become exposed. See also: 1250 Earth science, and 1517 Earth science.


Gravity-powered water systems for towns are in use. See also 1600 Tools.


Hieronymus Brunschwygk's Liber de arte distillandi de simplicibus, known as the "Small Book" or as "The Little Book of Distillation," describes the construction of furnaces and stills, herbs usable for distillation, and medical applications of distillates. He will publish his "Big Book," dealing with the same subjects, in 1512.

Medicine & health

Jakob Nufer, a Swiss pig gelder, performs the first recorded caesarean operation on a living woman. See also: 1497 Medicine & health; 1545 Medicine & health.


Leonardo da Vinci draws a wheel-lock musket, the first known appearance of this type of ignition, which will come into use about 15 years later. Earlier small arms had been ignited by various forms of matches; the wheel-lock is ignited when a spring mechanism causes a ratchet to strike sparks from iron and pyrites or flint. See also 1515 in tools.

Rifling in gun barrels is introduced. Grooves are cut in spirals into the interior of the barrels, imparting a stabilizing spin to the projectile.


Leonardo da Vinci designs the first helicopter. It is not built and probably would not have flown if built. See also 1492 in transportation.

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