Science is what we do to find out about the natural world. It is the total of physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astronomy. Science makes use of mathematics, and it makes observations and experiments. Science produces accurate facts, scientific laws and theories. 'Science' also refers to the large amount of knowledge that has been found using this process.
Research uses the scientific method. Scientific research uses hypotheses based on ideas or earlier knowledge, which can be categorized through different topics. Then those hypotheses are tested by experiments.
People who study and research science and try to find out everything about it are called scientists. Scientists study things by looking at them very carefully, by measuring them, and by doing experiments and tests. Scientists try to explain why things act the way they do, and predict what will happen.
Scientific method[change | change source]
Today, "science" usually refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not just the knowledge itself. It is mainly about the phenomena of the material world. In the 17th and 18th centuries scientists increasingly sought to formulate knowledge in terms of laws of nature such as Newton's laws of motion. And over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with the scientific method itself, as a way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology.
It was in the 19th century also that the term scientist was created by William Whewell. He meant it to distinguish those who sought knowledge on nature from those who sought other types of knowledge.
The scientific method is the name given to the methods used by scientists to find knowledge. The main features of the scientific method are:
- Scientists identify a question or a problem about nature. Some problems are simple, such as "how many legs do flies have?" and some are very deep, such as "why do objects fall to the ground?"
- Next, scientists investigate the problem. They work at it, collecting facts. Sometimes all it takes is to look carefully.
- Some questions cannot be answered directly. Then scientists suggest ideas, and test them out. They do experiments and collect data.
- Eventually, they figure out what they think is a good answer to the problem. Then they tell people about it.
- Later, other scientists may agree or not agree. They may suggest another answer. They may do more experiments. Anything in science might be revised if we find out the previous solution was not good enough.
Practical impacts of scientific research[change | change source]
Discoveries in fundamental science can be world-changing. For example:
Research Impact Static electricity and magnetism (1600)
Electric current (18th century)
All electric appliances, dynamo's, electric power stations, modern electronics, including electric lighting, television, electric heating, magnetic tape, loudspeaker, plus the compass and lightning rod. Diffraction (1665) Optics, hence fiber optic cable (1840s), cable TV and internet Germ theory (1700) Hygiene, leading to decreased transmission of infectious diseases; antibodies, leading to techniques for disease diagnosis and targeted anticancer therapies. Vaccination (1798) Leading to the elimination of most infectious diseases from developed countries and the worldwide eradication of smallpox. Photovoltaics (1839) Solar cells (1883), hence solar power, solar powered watches, calculators and other devices. The strange orbit of Mercury (1859) and other research
leading to special (1905) and general relativity (1916)
Satellite-based technology such as GPS (1973), satnav and satellite communications. Radio waves (1887) Radio had become used in innumerable ways beyond its better-known areas of telephony, and broadcasttelevision (1927) and radio (1906) entertainment. Other uses included – emergency services, radar (navigation and weather forecasting), medicine, astronomy, wireless communications, and networking. Radio waves also led researchers to adjacent frequencies such as microwaves, used worldwide for heating and cooking food. Radioactivity (1896) and antimatter (1932) Cancer treatment (1896), Radiometric dating (1905), nuclear reactors (1942) and weapons (1945), PET scans (1961), and medical research (with isotopic labelling) X-rays (1896) Medical imaging, including computer tomography Crystallography and quantum mechanics (1900) Semiconductor devices (1906), hence modern computing and telecommunications including the integration with wireless devices: the mobile phone Plastics (1907) Starting with bakelite, many types of artificial polymers for numerous applications in industry and daily life Antibiotics (1880's, 1928) Salvarsan, Penicillin, doxycycline etc. Nuclear magnetic resonance (1930's) Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1946), magnetic resonance imaging (1971), functional magnetic resonance imaging (1990's).
Other features of science[change | change source]
Not everyone completely agrees about how science works. Some philosophers and scientists say that scientific theories are only accepted for the time being. They last so long as they are the best explanation. When theories no longer explain the data, they are discarded and replaced. Or, sometimes scientists will make a theory better rather than discard it, or they will keep on using the theory hoping that it will be made better eventually.
Science is a way to get knowledge by discarding what is not true.
Scientists must be very careful to make explanations that fit well with what they observe and measure. They compete to provide better explanations. An explanation might be interesting or pleasing, but if it does not agree with what other scientists really see and measure, they will try to find a better explanation.
Before a scientific article is published, other scientists read the article and decide whether the explanations make sense from the data. This is called peer review. After articles are published, other scientists will also check if the same experiments, observations or tests produce the same data again. Peer review and repeatingexperiments are the only way to be sure the knowledge is correct.
Science makes models of nature, models of our universe, and medicine. There are many different sciences with their own names. However it is not right to say "science says" any one thing. Science is a process, not just the facts and rules believed at one time.
Some types of science[change | change source]
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- ↑Wilson, Edward O. 1998. Consilience: the unity of knowledge. New York: Vintage Books, 49–71. ISBN 0-679-45077-7
- ↑Heilbron J.L. 2003. The Oxford companion to the history of modern science. New York: Oxford University Press, vii. ISBN 0-19-511229-6.
"... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. It was a discovery that nature generally acts regularly enough to be described by laws and even by mathematics; and required invention to devise the techniques, abstractions, apparatus, and organization for exhibiting the regularities and securing their law-like descriptions".
- ↑"Online dictionary". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
- ↑Popper, Karl (2002) . The Logic of Scientific Discovery (2nd English edition ed.). New York, NY: Routledge Classics. p. 3. ISBN 0-415-27844-9. OCLC 59377149.
- ↑Oxford English Dictionary
- ↑The Oxford English Dictionary dates the origin of the word "scientist" to 1834.
- ↑ 7.07.1Evicting Einstein, March 26, 2004, NASA. "Both [relativity and quantum mechanics] are extremely successful. The Global Positioning System (GPS), for instance, wouldn't be possible without the theory of relativity. Computers, telecommunications, and the Internet, meanwhile, are spin-offs of quantum mechanics."
Not to be confused with Science writing.
Scientific writing is writing for science.
See also: Scientific literature § History
Scientific writing in English started in the 14th century.
The Royal Society established good practice for scientific writing. Founder member Thomas Sprat wrote on the importance of plain and accurate description rather than rhetorical flourishes in his History of the Royal Society of London. Robert Boyle emphasized the importance of not boring the reader with a dull, flat style.
Because most scientific journals accept manuscripts only in English, an entire industry has developed to help non-native English speaking authors improve their text before submission. It is just now becoming an accepted practice to utilize the benefits of these services. This is making it easier for scientists to focus on their research and still get published in top journals.
Besides the customary readability tests, software tools relying on Natural Language Processing to analyze text help writer scientists evaluate the quality of their manuscripts prior to submission to a journal. SWAN, a Java app written by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland is such a tool.[non-primary source needed]
Writing style guides
Publication of research results is the global measure used by all disciplines to gauge a scientist’s level of success.
Different fields have different conventions for writing style, and individual journals within a field usually have their own style guides. Some issues of scientific writing style include:
- Some style guides for scientific writing recommend against use of the passive voice, while some encourage it.In the mathematical sciences, it is customary to report in the present tense.
- Some journals prefer using "we" rather than "I" as personal pronoun. Note that "we" sometimes includes the reader, for example in mathematical deductions.
However, scientific writing is much more nuanced and shifts of tense and person reflect subtle changes in the development of a written scientific argument. Furthermore, each section of the conventional IMRAD article has slightly different style.
In the chemical sciences, drawing chemistry is as fundamental as writing chemistry. The point is clearly made by 1981 Nobel Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann.
- ^ abJoseph E. Harmon, Alan G. Gross (2007-05-15), "On Early English Scientific Writing", The scientific literature, ISBN 9780226316567
- ^Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta, Medical and scientific writing in late medieval English
- ^"Scientific Writing Assistant". April 2012.
- ^Day, Robert; Sakaduski, Nancy (30 June 2011). Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals, Third Edition. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39173-6.
- ^Dawson, Chris (2007). "Prescriptions and proscriptions. The three Ps of scientific writing – past, passive and personal". Teaching Science: the Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association. 53 (2): 36–38.
- ^Nicholas J. Higham, 1998. Handbook of writing for the mathematical sciences, Second Edition. Philadelphia: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. p. 56
- ^ abMogull, Scott A. (2017). Scientific And Medical Communication: A Guide For Effective Practice. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781138842557.
- ^Hoffmann, Roald (2002). "Writing (and Drawing) Chemistry". In Jonathan Monroe. Writing and Revising the Disciplines(PDF). Cornell University Press. pp. 29–53. Retrieved 2012-12-20.