Beginning in the early 1800s, manufacturers increasingly applied the findings of pure science to their businesses, generating a new wave of industrial growth. Electricity, a tremendous new source of power, was developed and used to run generators, lights, the telephone, and the telegraph. The invention of the internal combustion engine led to the development of both the automobile and the airplane. Scientists during the 1800s and early 1900s investigated the biological sciences-those dealing with living organisms. Many explored the structure of cells, the tiny units of living matter, in an attempt to better understand organic matter and thereby improve human life. Disease prevention was one of the breakthroughs accomplished by this knowledge. The most significant developments in the physical sciences-those that deal with the properties of energy and nonliving matter-centered on atomic theory.
This theory states that all matter in the universe consists of very small particles called atoms. The arrangement and structure of these atoms and their chemical combinations with each other account for the different characteristics of the materials that make up our world. During the 1800s, interest in the social sciences, those branches of knowledge that scientifically study people as members of society, grew rapidly. These subjects include political science, economics, history, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. The progress made possible by science and technology helped produce rapid population growth in industrialized countries. As the population grew, it became more mobile. Large numbers of people emigrated to other countries. Others moved to cities to find jobs in factories. Education became more accessible to a larger part of the population. The number and availability of leisure activities grew along with the population.
Literature, music, and art reflected the social and economic developments of the industrial age. Artists portrayed a sense of the rapidly changing times and the influences of scientific ideas in their works. Many writers, musicians, and other artists of the early 1800s belonged to the artistic movement known as romanticism. Their work appealed to sentiment and imagination and dealt with the “romance” of life-life as they thought it should be rather than as it actually was. In the mid-1800s, writers and artists began to abandon romanticism and turn to realism, which emphasized the realities of everyday life.