|What is science about?|
|Question Date: 2019-12-27|
Science can be about almost anything. It can be about medicine, or stars, or molecules, or plants, or volcanoes, or lots of other things. It might be easier to say what science is not about. Science can’t answer questions about supernatural things, like God or spiritual ideas. It can’t tell you what you should do, but it can often tell you how your actions might affect the world.
For example, it can tell you that if you drop a rock on your foot, it could damage your foot. You can use science and math to figure out how the weight of the rock and how far it falls will influence how much it damages your foot.
Science can’t tell you not to drop on your foot (or someone else’s). For questions about what you should do, people turn to areas other than science, like philosophy, religion, and law.
What do you think the most interesting questions are?
What a fun question! I think the answer to this will depend on who you ask. To me, science is all about making sense of the world. It is about finding the rules that tell us how things work. For instance, scientists like Isaac Newton found out a rule for gravity, called the Law of Gravitation. This law tells us how everything in the universe is attracted by the force of gravity. It tells us about the earth's orbit around the sun, and the moon's orbit around the earth. With the Law of Gravitation, we can calculate how to send rockets to the moon and beyond. The scientific process, or scientific method, is how we discover the rules of the universe, little by little. Scientists make a guess about a rule of the universe, they test it, and they improve the rule. A lot of times, their first guess is wrong, so they keep trying and trying until they make a rule that turns out to be right after many many tests. Science is all about finding the rules of the universe, and making sure we guessed them right!
Science is about discovery! Scientists aim to discover truths about the world around us. Anyone can be a scientist, but the thing that distinguishes scientists from other people looking for truth is that we always use the scientific method. The steps of the scientific method are:
1. asking a question (called a hypothesis),
2. testing that question (called an experiment),
3. interpreting the results (called a conclusion),
4. using the new information we've gathered to develop new hypotheses.
The scientific method guides scientists so that we don't form a conclusion in our minds before we've conducted an experiment - this would lead to bad results and prevent us from ever learning the truth.
The answer to this question could fill a book, but to keep it brief: Science is about understanding and explaining all the “stuff” in the universe. Paul A.M. Dirac put it well, saying "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way…” It may seem daunting and difficult to understand everything in the universe (and it certainly is), but science strives to nibble away at this task in a progressive manner, starting with fundamental first principles, and then logically applying experimental/scientific methods, allowing us to build from these principles to broaden our understanding. These advancements then serve as the foundation for the next generation of scientists to further broaden our understanding, and this process will perpetuate.
On a day to day level, I would say science is a methodology to explore one’s curiosity- to identify something unknown and use your knowledge base to determine a likely answer to the unknown. This is why science encourages continual learning- so you always expand your knowledge base so you can keep exploring your curiosities!
The really short answer is that science is about the natural world. A slightly longer answer that the purpose of science is to help us understand how the natural world works.
A still longer answer is that science is about observing the natural world, asking questions about these observations, and trying to find answers to these questions by performing experiments and interpreting the results.
Because science relies on cycles of observations, questions, and tentative answers, it is the responsibility of scientists to come up with better methods and machines to make more accurate observations, to develop the ability to ask more relevant questions, and to answer these questions accurately, without personal or professional bias. Science is also about knowing that there is no "end" to understanding nature, that there is always much, much more that we don't know than we do know.
I’m sure the answer will change depending on who you ask, but I think in the most general sense, science is about trying to understand how and why things happen the way they do.
The mysteries of the world are often complex and it’s not always clear what questions we should ask and what experiments we should do to understand what is going on. Even after we have done experiments, it can be difficult to interpret the data and figure out what important conclusions we should get.
Scientists spend a lot of time thinking about these types of things. For example, you probably already know that gravity is what keeps you on Earth. Without it, planets and stars wouldn’t even exist, and we wouldn’t be here. You probably also know that gravity is related to mass. But there was a time when people didn’t understand gravity at all - in fact there was a time when the word gravity didn’t even exist yet! And there was no way for people to describe a force they didn’t even know existed. They had to figure out what it was and how it worked by observing its effect on the natural world. In the case of gravity, people first began to observe that the planets traveled around the sun and they wondered what kept them in orbit.
The legend goes that Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall from a tree, and that got him thinking about what we now know is gravity. He knew that there had to be some kind of force acting on the apple for it to fall, and he tried to figure out what it was and how it worked. Of course, just because Newton made a theory (a theory is an idea that explains how something works) about gravity doesn't mean people stopped asking questions! In science, people are always asking questions and doing experiments. Sometimes new experiments will show results which cannot be explained by previous theories! Then people have to go back and think some more and do even more experiments to try to figure out why. Because of this, our understanding of the world is always changing. Albert Einstein is an example of a scientist who came up with different theories about gravity than Newton which explained even more experimental observations than Newton's original theory. Whether or not Newton actually saw an apple fall from a tree, the point is that science is about trying to explain how and why things happen in the physical world the way they do!
• Science is both a body of knowledge and a process.
• Science is exciting.
• Science is useful.
• Science is ongoing.
• Science is a global human endeavor.
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