I have a wild guess that science flew when we started to take the concepts, fragment it and examine it piece by piece, fragmenting it again when needed for a better understanding. It seems that this process of modularization was pivotal to the scientific progress but where did it come from?
I remember of having read that for centuries, euclidean geometry was a sort of perfect scientific model in which we grab the idea of certain spaces and abstract them in order to obtain their intrinsic nature and hence, they drilled a hole right to the axioms and confirmed that the axioms do indeed represent that idealization of space. Could this be the source?
I believe there is no perfect answer to this question. But I guess we could at least trace where this idea was used and have a rough estimate of its beginning. Also, I'm interested in It's existence and am looking at references on both existential and historical aspects of the concept.