The title is pretty self-explanatory. I'm wondering, more specifically, what societal, environmental, and/or scientific ramifications might result in an extra-planetary, humanoid civilization with greco-roman levels of technology to rapidly discover things like steam power, electricity, or even nuclear technology in a matter of decades or centuries.
I know this sounds extreme, but it seems reasonable to assume that any civilization on a world other than our own would discover certain technologies and scientific principals before we did (relative to their own age as a species), while discovering other things after. If you do not think this is the case, please explain why. If you do think it's the case, please explain what circumstances might lead to the technological scenario described above.
Once again, this is a humanoid species on a more-or-less Earth-like planet (although the specifics of the environment, such as geography, weather, resources, etc. are up for alteration), with previously greco-roman levels of technology and scientific understanding. How might such a civilization rapidly make modern-era discoveries, such as electricity and nuclear physics, in a matter of decades or centuries, rather than millennia?