Science is fluid: What is Science?


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Created as an educational tool, this presentation explores fundamental questions about what science is, how it has helped mankind and how it works in the hopes of dispelling misconceptions and misinformation.

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Science is fluid: What is Science?

  1. 1. Science is BottleRockt 2.0: HOW SCIENCE WORKS
  2. 2. Whatis Science?
  3. 3. Science is a systematic enterprise !that builds and organizes knowledge !in the form of testable explanations !and predictions about the universe !and the natural world.
  4. 4. In other words, science helps usunderstand how natural phenomenaworks, from “why does water freeze”to “why do stars explode”.
  5. 5. Science is constantly changing asour knowledge and understandingevolves. That’s what we mean, whenwe say “science is fluid”.
  6. 6. Science searches foranswers to some of the biggest questions
  7. 7. We are a questioning species. It is ourfundamental questions about the universethat drives science. We may never have !all the answers, because we will alwayshave questions. The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions. Claude Lévi-Strauss, 1964
  8. 8. Whatis a scientist?
  9. 9. Scientist: a person who is studying orhas expert knowledge of one or more !of the natural or physical sciences.
  10. 10. This is not a scientist.
  11. 11. Sir Isaac Newton Marie Curie Albert Einstein 1642-1727 1867-1934 1879-1955 These are scientists.
  12. 12. James Watson Jane Goodall Stephen Hawkins Structure of DNA Primatology, Ethology, Nature of Space and Time Anthropology So are these.
  13. 13. Theories,hypotheses and laws
  14. 14. Scientists use the Scientific Method" to observe, research and discover " new knowledge and information.
  15. 15. Scientific Method: Refers to a body oftechniques for investigating phenomena,acquiring new knowledge, or correctingand integrating previous knowledge.
  16. 16. Did you read that?
  17. 17. Scientific Method: Refers to a body oftechniques for investigating phenomena,acquiring new knowledge, or correctingand integrating previous knowledge.
  18. 18. When we discover something new, "we add to, revise or refine what webelieve as factual, which expandsour common understanding.
  19. 19. To be termed scientific, a method ofinquiry must be based on gatheringempirical and measurable data subject !to specific principles of reasoning.
  20. 20. Hypothesis: a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of evidence as a starting point for further investigation. “The sun generates heat, based on observations out of " my window.” • A hypothesis cannot be made into a law. • A hypothesis cannot be proven to be correct with " a single experiment. Many must be performed. • Research and observations are submitted to scientific journals for peer review to share with the scientific community, in order for others to test the hypothesis.
  21. 21. Theory: collections of hypotheses in a logical order, that explain an aspect of reality, which have individually or jointly received empirical support. “The sun generates warmth only in the daytime sky. It appears as a burning ball of fire through the telescope.” • A theory can be (tested) proven or disproved " by others. • An accepted theory remains true until empirical" data disproves it. • Test results from one theory can be used to " validate or disprove another.
  22. 22. Law: a statement that under certain conditions is always true. It states the observation, but does not explain it. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in " a closed system, energy can be exchanged with its surroundings." " Translation: The galaxy is a closed system. Solar radiation from the sun (heat) is exchanged with our atmosphere. • Laws are simple, true, universal, and absolute. • Laws can be refined with new data, but not removed. • Laws must be confirmed and broadly agreed upon through the process of inductive reasoning
  23. 23. I Have a Theory
  24. 24. Science is a reflection of what we knowright now. Because it is fluid, it (information)is constantly changing and being refined.
  25. 25. People often think that when newknowledge comes along, it changes !all the preceding laws.It is better to think of it as adding to anexisting law or clarifying it to a morerealistic view, than actually changing it.
  26. 26. Some people believe that Einstein’s Lawof Relativity made Newton’s theoriesredundant. Some would also say that Quantum Theorysupplanted Relativity and String Theorysupplanted Quantum Theory etc.
  27. 27. Nothing could befurther from the truth
  28. 28. Scientific knowledge is always refined !or adjusted, not replaced with an entirelynew theory as our understanding evolves.
  29. 29. Theories are changed or adjusted in smallincrements, and new theories will usuallyconsist of an old one with a small newportion added on.
  30. 30. The Art of Scientific Language
  31. 31. Scientists are extremely precise people."Their research, hypotheses and theoriesmust always be carefully expressed anddocumented in a way that facilitates !clear thinking.
  32. 32. There are two methods they employ toachieve this. Language and Mathematics.
  33. 33. Science journals are used to publishscientific results, data and observationspublically in the science community. Think of them as the New York Times for the science world.
  34. 34. Communication of results contributes tothe pool of knowledge within a disciplineand provides information that helps othersinterpret their own experimental results.Most journals accept papers for publicationafter review by other scientists in the samefield and who recommend the paper bepublished (usually with some revision).
  35. 35. Clarity of information is the key to writingpapers for publication. This is why manyscience journals are very specific on howscience papers are written.
  36. 36. Methodology
  37. 37. The scientific method is a body oftechniques scientists use for acquiringempirical and measurable evidence. It is un-biased, objective and the resultsare based in reality.
  38. 38. “Repeatable results” is the mantra ofevery thorough scientist since their findingsmust always be tested and re-tested bytheir peers. This process of coming to thesame conclusion is what validates ordisproves the theories of a scientist.
  39. 39. MathematicsCan Be Beautiful
  40. 40. Mathematics, it is thought, can definealmost anything. To many, it is seen as !a very elegant means of expression.
  41. 41. The Pythagorean’s Theorem is a 2,500 yearold mathematical formula created by ancientman. Not only is it still in use today, but is thebasis behind Trigonometry.Euler’s Law of Identity has been called the“gem” of mathematics. It combines five of themost important constants in mathematics withthe three fundamental operations (addition,multiplication and exponentiation). Perhaps the most well-known theory,Einstein’s Mass-Energy Equivalence !defines a complex, fundamental law ofphysics with the least amount of characters.
  42. 42. To many, it may be inconceivable hownumbers could be thought of as beautiful.But there is a certain amount of practicalfunctionality in describing complex,abstract ideas coherently and concisely.That’s what’s considered elegant.
  43. 43. The Theory of Everything
  44. 44. Science uses two schools of formulaicequations to make predictions aboutnatural phenomena in the universe.General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
  45. 45. General Relativity works well at predictinghow large bodies, such as planets andstars behave in the universe; but falls apartat predicting how small bodies behave atthe particle level.
  46. 46. Quantum Mechanics can predict howparticles beyond the quark level behave,but is incompatible with the general lawsof gravity, nor does it account for thephysics of dark energy.
  47. 47. The Theory of Everything is a generallyaccepted concept that there exists intheoretical physics, a theory that fullyexplains and links together all knownphysical phenomena, and predicts theoutcome of any experiment that could becarried out in principle. This is one of thegreat mysteries in modern science.
  48. 48. The Big Bang
  49. 49. The Big Bang is the widely acceptedconcept within the scientific community !that answers the question, “where do wecome from”.It began in 1929, when Edward Hubbleshowed that the galaxies were movingaway from us. Georges Lemaître deducedthat if the galaxies were moving away, theymust have had a starting point.
  50. 50. Hundreds of experiments and calculationshave been made that support the Big BangTheory.The Origin of Heavy Elements from thefusion of lighter elements is one of them.Known as nucleosynthesis, it works only !if the universe began from a Big Bang.
  51. 51. Science now has so many datapoints(empirical evidence) that support the BigBang Theory, it is a commonly accepted !theory among scientists.
  52. 52. This is how accumulated scientificknowledge works… using the results oftesting hypotheses to confirm or disprove.
  53. 53. What Sciencehas Given Us
  54. 54. Science enriches our lives. Throughlearning about how the natural world works,we learn about ourselves and discoverwhat we are capable of.Take a closer look at your world. You’vebeen using principles of science all your life.Science is everywhere.
  55. 55. Parents! Teachers! Learn MoreEmpower your Encourage your Embrace science inchildren to ask students to engage your everyday life.questions about the in science talk in " See the world as "world around them. the classroom. it really is. BottleRocket 2.0: HOW SCIENCE WORKS
  56. 56. " " Journal: Nature, Science, Astrophysical Images: lightmatterphotography, kavewall, Journal, Proceedings of the National gettyhistoricalarchive, alegriphotos, cgtextures, Academy of Sciences, Astronomy and openphoto, tofz, stockmedia, creativity103, Astrophysics, Accounts of Chemical everystockphoto, openphoto, stockarch, Research. stockmedia, flickr (cc), alegriphotos, Association: American Nature Association. Magazine: Discover Magazine, Scientific American, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, New Scientist, Astronomy.Web:,,,, TED, YouTube The BottleRocket icon is a trademark of BottleRocket 2.0 and "a subsidiary of the AMNH, New York. Funding provided in part "by AMNH and NCME. Concept and Design: Will Longaphie