Science Web Assignment for Unit 35
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One of the "triumphs" of modern science has been the sense that science can prove causal relationships between events and outcomes, or describe some phenomena as consistent throughout time and space. We rely on the science of physics to help engineers design cars with a certain stopping-distance when the brakes are applied, and we get into those cars and drive them, putting our lives at risk, because we trust that the scientific knowledge is correct, and that the physicists and engineers have correctly applied these principles.
Part of this sense of certainty comes out of the deterministic science of classical physics, that is, the science that developed in the wake of Newton's work with the laws of motion. His success in predicting the actual motion of objects, from falling apples to the courses of the planets in the heaves, have allowed us to develop different technologies and to send spacecraft wich accurately arrive and fall into orbit about those planets.
Read the summary of the scientific method at Science Buddies, a popular site for students entering science fairs.
The establishment of scientific knowledge relies largely on the experimental method. The classical process comes out of Galileo's work with falling bodies, and rolling balls down inclined planes. It has been summarized in countless textbooks. The actual names and numbers of steps vary, but most will include the following:
This method works very well when we have a discrete phenomenon that we can observe over and over in a laboratory. But how do we investigate the formation of the earth, the structure of a distant star, or the effect of a particular genetic change on an individual, when we cannot control the factors that might influence the outcome of a given situation? One of our goals this year is to see how different areas of science use not only the experiemental method, but develop other means of observing phenomena and drawing conclusions from them, some of which are valid across all sciences, but some of which may only apply to a special area where no other means of observation is possible.
Read the following quotations on scientific method by some of the top scientists of recent decades.
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