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THE NATURE OF SCIENCE

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THE NATURE OF SCIENCE

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									Explanations and
Investigations
   EXPLANATIONS
     Concerned with things or events observed

     Can come from the results of experiments,
     from an educated guess, or just from
     imaginative thinking

     Can have various names, each depending
     on intended use or stage of development
Explanations
   Hypothesis
     Explanation in an early stage of
     development

     A tentative thought – or experiment –
     derived explanation

     Tested by experiment and is rejected, or
     modified, if a single observation or test does
     not fit.
Scientific Laws
   Law
     Describes a relationship between events
      that seems to happen time after time.


   Murphy’s Law
     “ if anything can go wrong, it will”.
Scientific Laws
   Scientific Law
     Describes an important relationship that is
     observed in nature to occur consistently time
     after time.

     Describes what happens in nature

     Identified with the name of a person
     associated with the formulation of the law
Scientific Laws
   Charles’ Law
     For example: With all other factors being
     equal, an increase in temperature of the air
     in a balloon results in an increase in its
     volume. Likewise, a decrease in the
     temperature results in a decrease in the total
     volume of the balloon.

     The volume of the balloon varies directly
     with the temperature of the air in the balloon,
     and this can be observed to occur
     consistently time after time.
Scientific Laws
   Charles’ Law
     This relationship was first discovered in the
     later part of the 18th century by two French
     scientists, A.C. Charles and Joseph-Gay
     Lusaac.
Scientific Laws
   They do not dictate the behavior of
    objects; they simply describe it.

   They do not say how things ought to act
    but rather how things DO act.

   They are descriptive; it describes how
    things act.
Models and Theories
   Models
     a description of a theory or idea that
     accounts for all known properties

     can be an actual physical model, a computer
     model, a sketch, an analogy or an equation

     Conjecture = an explanation or idea based
     on speculation, or one based on trivial
     grounds
Models and Theories
   Theory
     defined as a broad, working hypothesis
     based on extensive experimental evidence.
       ○ Plate tectonic theory


   Scientific theory
     Reserved for historic schemes of thought
     that have survived the test of detailed
     examination for long periods of time
       ○ Atomic theory
Laws and Theories
   Laws describe the way in which the matter and
    energy of the universe have been observed to
    behave.

   For example, when the science of chemistry was in
    its fairly early developmental stages, people were
    doing a lot of experiments in which they combined
    different elements to see what they would get.

   One result of this activity was a set of "laws of
    chemical proportion." These were observations like,
    "If you get carbon to interact with oxygen, you will
    use up one part carbon for every two parts oxygen“.
Laws and Theories
 Theories, on the other hand, attempt to explain why the
  laws are the way they are. As a result, theories are
  generally more complex and have more "working
  parts," so to speak, than laws do.
 The theory which explains our laws of chemical
  proportion is the atomic theory, or the theory of atomic
  structure. When the laws of chemical proportion were
  worked out, the concept of the atom didn't really exist.
  It was a couple of hundred years before anybody really
  began to get some evidence about atoms and what
  they were made of.
 Quite a few explanations for atomic structure were
  evaluated and discarded before our current theory was
  accepted — because they didn't explain the laws of
  chemical proportion and other bodies of evidence that
  were building up about atomic behavior.
Science vs Nonscience
   Science
     Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Biology


   Nonscience
     Art, Literature, Theology, Philosophy
     Concerned with beauty, human emotions
     and speculative thought rather than with
     facts and verifiable laws.
Pseudoscience
   is a belief or process which masquerades as
    science in an attempt to claim a legitimacy which it
    would not otherwise be able to achieve on its own
    terms; it is often known as fringe- or
    alternative science.

   The most important of its defects is usually the
    lack of the carefully controlled and thoughtfully
    interpreted experiments which provide the
    foundation of the natural sciences and which
    contribute to their advancement.
    Research
   Basic Research
     Driven by a search for understanding and may or may not have
      practical applications

     Basic (aka fundamental or pure ) research is driven by a
      scientist's curiosity or interest in a scientific question. The main
      motivation is to expand man's knowledge , not to create or invent
      something. There is no obvious commercial value to the
      discoveries that result from basic research.

     For example, basic science investigations probe for answers to
      questions such as:
        ○ How did the universe begin?
        ○ What are protons, neutrons, and electrons composed of?

        ○ What is the specific genetic code of the fruit fly?
    Research
   Applied Research
     Has a goal of solving some practical problems rather than just
      looking for answers.

     Applied research is designed to solve practical problems of the
      modern world, rather than to acquire knowledge for
      knowledge's sake. One might say that the goal of the applied
      scientist is to improve the human condition .

     For example, applied researchers may investigate ways to:
      improve agricultural crop production
     treat or cure a specific disease
     improve the energy efficiency of homes, offices, or modes of
      transportation
The Nature of Science
   An important thing to know about science is that isn't
    something that you have; it's something that you do,
    and even more significantly, it's a way you think.

   All scientific concepts are tentative; there are no
    "proven" laws or theories. Because all laws and
    theories are experience - based, they are all
    ultimately tentative. In fact, that's one of the most
    important features of any scientifically useful
    concept. The terms you usually hear used in this
    respect are "falsifiability" or "testability." All these
    mean is that for an idea to be scientifically
    respectable, there must be some way that it can be
    challenged.
Limitations of Science

   Science has limitations; it's not the only
    problem solving system people use, and
    it's not the most appropriate system for
    some kinds of questions.

   All of the primary limitations on science are
    ultimately due to the requirement for
    testability.
 Limitations of Science
The three major areas of limitation of science are:
   Value Judgments: You can't scientifically determine whether a rose is
    more beautiful than a gumamela, or whether that rose smells nicer than
    a sampaguita, or whether an ounce of gold is worth more than an
    ounce of silver.

   Moral Judgments: You can't scientifically determine what is ethically
    good or bad. Note that this does not mean that scientists shouldn't be
    held morally responsible for what they do.

   Issues of the Supernatural: By definition, the tools of science are
    limited to the natural laws of the universe. "Super" means "above," so
    "supernatural" literally means "above the natural." Sorry, but no
    scientist can use science to demonstrate whether there is or isn't a
    God. This doesn't necessarily mean that this isn't an important question
    — just that science isn't the avenue to follow to attempt to answer it.

								
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