||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (March 2012)|
Science is a word that can be used to talk about three different ideas, which are not very different from each other:
- It is about getting knowledge or making the knowledge better. Making the knowledge better is done using a process called research.
- Education is about teaching knowledge to people.
- Science can also be used to talk about all the knowledge known so far.
Today, research uses the scientific method. Scientific research is used to increase knowledge by creating hypotheses based on knowledge earlier known, and then testing those hypotheses using experiments. The word science can also refer to the large amount of knowledge that has been found using this process, so far.
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.
The "scientific method" is the name given to the methods used by scientists to find knowledge.
The main features of the scientific method are:
- The scientific method is a "trial and error" method. (Scientists try something to see if it works or not.)
- The scientific method depends on data.
- The product of the scientific process is something called a "theory".
How does light travel through transparent bodies? Light travels through transparent bodies in straight lines only.... We have explained this exhaustively in our Book of Optics. But let us now mention something to prove this convincingly: the fact that light travels in straight lines is clearly observed in the lights which enter into dark rooms through holes.... [T]he entering light will be clearly observable in the dust which fills the air.
Alhazen took many years to prove his claim, that "light travels through transparent bodies in straight lines only". At the end, he demonstrated his claim by placing a straight stick or a thread next to the light beam.
Other features of science[change]
Not everyone completely agrees about how science works. Some philosophers and scientists say that scientific theories are only accepted as long as they are the best explanation for the data that exists, and when theories no longer explain the data, they are discarded and replaced. Other people say that sometimes scientists will make a theory better rather than discard it, or that 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 repeating experiments 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]
- "Online dictionary". Merriam-Webster. http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/science. Retrieved 2009-05-22. "knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method . . . such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena"
- 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.
- Alhazen, translated into English from German by M. Schwarz, from "Abhandlung über das Licht", J. Baarmann (ed. 1882) Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft Vol 36 as quoted in Sambursky 1974, p. 136
- as quoted in Sambursky 1974, p. 136