The Scientific Cycle


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The Scientific Cycle

  1. 1. The Scientific Cycle “ It is suicidal to create a society dependent on science and technology in which hardly anybody knows anything about science and technology”. Carl Sagan , 2003
  2. 2. Question: So how does society “weather” the upcoming storm? Fossil Fuel based Society Simple Answer: Reduce Fossil Fuel Consumption aka Energy Conservation
  3. 3. Energy Conservation <ul><li>Energy Conservation is a reduction of Consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Energy consumption for an activity depends on two factors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frequency – how often an activity is done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intensity – the amount of energy required for the activity </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The rectangles on the graph represents the total energy consumption for an activity. </li></ul><ul><li>In order to reduce consumption and conserve energy, the area of the rectangle must be reduced by lowering the frequency and/or the intensity of the activity. </li></ul>Energy Conservation
  5. 5. Energy Conservation <ul><li>Energy Conservation can be achieved in two ways: </li></ul><ul><li>Technical Fix: Using new technologies that use less energy or a difference energy source </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited by laws of nature </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Lifestyle Change: Changing ones views or habits regarding energy use. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May have to be mandated by government by laws and regulations </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. The “Tech Fix” <ul><li>When it comes to energy conservation, most Americans prefer a Technology Fix rather than a Lifestyle Change. </li></ul><ul><li>Technology is application of science and the scientific method to develop and apply tools, machines, materials and processes to help solve human problems. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Tech Fixes” are limited by the Laws of Nature . </li></ul>
  7. 7. Science All science is based on the assumption that the natural world behaves in a consistent and predictable manner . The overall goal of science is to discover the underlying patterns in the natural world and then to use this knowledge to make predictions about what should or should not be expected to happen given certain facts or circumstances.
  8. 8. Science is not simply a collection of facts and numbers….It is a way of thinking!!
  9. 9. The Scientific Method <ul><li>The typical presentation of “the scientific method” suggests that scientific research follows a linear path, proceeding from a question through observation, hypothesis formation, experimentation and finally producing results and a conclusion. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Scientific Method <ul><li>However, scientific research does not always proceed linearly. </li></ul><ul><li>I prefer to view the scientific method as the scientific cycle (see next slide). </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Scientific Cycle A C D E B Speculation Hypothesis Theory Test Data ????? Analysis
  12. 12. The Scientific Cycle <ul><li>Collect and Analyze Data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>observations (see, smell, hear, taste, or touch); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>measurements. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Analysis of Data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientists analyze the data for trends or patterns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes scientists can summarize their results in mathematical form or an equation if their data is quantitative </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. The Scientific Cycle <ul><li>3 . Develop a hypothesis (i.e.) a tentative explanation. A sound scientific hypothesis: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>must be based on established data </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>can be tested, and </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>can be proven false </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>4. Beware of Speculation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If a proposed hypothesis is not based on established data, can not be tested, and/or can not be proven false, then cannot be used in the scientific cycle. Such an idea is called speculation </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. The Scientific Cycle <ul><li>Test the hypothesis using an experiment; or create a model to make predictions based on the hypothesis. </li></ul><ul><li>Accept, revise, or reject the hypothesis based on the data from the experiment or testing of the model </li></ul><ul><li>7. Continue analyzing, testing and revising until the hypothesis seems sound. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Important Points about the Cycle <ul><li>Scientists are NOT required to observe nature with an open mind, with no preconceptions of what they are going to find. </li></ul><ul><li>There is no “right” place to enter the cycle. You can start with “data, hypotheses or an experiment. </li></ul><ul><li>Observations and experiments must be reported in way that anyone with proper equipment can reproduce the results. </li></ul><ul><li>The cycle never ends …..all scientific knowledge is constantly being scrutinized in the scientific cycle. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Scientific Cycle in Action <ul><li>We use the scientific cycle in everyday life </li></ul><ul><li>Observation: You got in your car to drive up here and turned the key but the car wouldn’t start (observation) </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis: There is something wrong with the car </li></ul><ul><li>Speculation: Aliens drained the battery. God must be angry at me. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove from cycle!!! </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Scientific Cycle in Action <ul><li>Multiple Hypothesis: battery dead, ignition problem, out of gas </li></ul><ul><li>Test hypothesis: turn on headlights, check spark plug wires, dip stick in gas tank </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze data : headlights work, strong ignition spark, no gas on dip stick-gas gauge reads half full </li></ul><ul><li>Draw conclusion : gauge inaccurate, out of gas </li></ul>
  18. 18. What is a Theory? <ul><li>When a hypothesis is well tested and widely accepted it may be called a theory . </li></ul><ul><li>In layman’s terms, if something is said to be “just a theory,” it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. </li></ul><ul><li>But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Scientific Laws <ul><li>A Scientific Law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically, scientific laws must be simple, true, universal, and absolute. </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the scientific laws, or laws of nature, that we will discuss in this class are the law of gravity, Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics and the the law of conservation of mass </li></ul>
  20. 20. Scientific Laws <ul><li>Technology is limited by Scientific Laws!!!! </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific laws are the rules we play by in modern society. We must understand these laws if we want to try apply technology to solve our energy and environmental problems. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Theory Vs Law <ul><li>A theory does not become a law over time as some textbooks imply </li></ul><ul><li>A theory and Law are two separate ideas </li></ul><ul><li>A law describes what nature does under certain conditions, and will predict what will happen as long as those conditions are met. </li></ul><ul><li>A theory explains how nature works. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Science and “Truth” <ul><li>Scientific theories and laws are not “truths” </li></ul><ul><li>Any scientific theory or laws subject to change as based on new observations or experimental data. </li></ul><ul><li>The Scientific Cycle never ends!! </li></ul>
  23. 23. “ Quality Control” In Science Peer Reviewed Journals <ul><li>Scientists make their research available to the community by publishing it in scientific journals. </li></ul><ul><li>A journal that publishes articles only after they have been checked for quality by several expert, objective scientists from different institutions. </li></ul><ul><li>After publication, scientific papers and other forms of research dissemination are further scrutinized by the scientific community when scientists read or try to reproduce the research. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Scientific Journals <ul><li>Scientists publish their original research in scientific journals, which are fundamentally different from news magazines. </li></ul><ul><li>The articles in scientific journals are not written by journalists – they are written by scientists. </li></ul><ul><li>Because scientific journals publish new work for the first time, they are called primary literature . In contrast, articles or news stories that review or report on scientific research already published elsewhere are referred to as secondary . </li></ul>
  25. 25. Which one of these is a source of Peer-Reviews Scientific Information?
  26. 26. Scientific Consensus <ul><li>A Scientific Consensus represents the position generally agreed upon at a given time by most scientists specialized in a given field. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, there is a scientific consensus on the fact that Earth's climate is heating up and human activities are part of the reason (see next slide). </li></ul><ul><li>Thus the scientific consensus is NOT a synonym of &quot;Certain Truth“, but is the best conclusion that science has to offer at the moment. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Scientific Consensus on Humans and Climate Change Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures? From: Doran, P.T. and M. Kendall Zimmerman 2009. Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. EOS VOLUME 90 NUMBER 3
  28. 28. Steering the Ship <ul><li>The scientific consensus can provide the best available information to answer questions like: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How far away are we from the storm? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How bad is the storm? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How strong is the ship? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can we do avoid the storm? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, Scientists can only provide information….. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Steering the Ship <ul><li>The Leaders of Society (presidents, prime ministers, congressman, etc) are the “captains” of the ship and make the decisions on how to apply the scientific information to “steer the ship”. </li></ul><ul><li>They should use the best science available to answer the following question: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Should we turn the ship around, slow down, or continue “full speed ahead?” </li></ul>
  30. 30. Steering the Ship <ul><li>Where great challenges are well understood, humanity has proven very adaptable and innovative but government leaders and the general public need to be more scientifically literate to make better decisions in applying science and technology. </li></ul><ul><li>The story of the Ozone Hole and the global response illustrates that society can apply science to “turn the ship around” and avoid a potential environmental storm (See Chapter 9 of your text). </li></ul>
  31. 31. The “Earth System Science” Perspective <ul><li>My experiences as a geologist have shown me that a “Earth System Science” perspective needs to be applied to fully understand our global energy and environmental situation. </li></ul>
  32. 32. The Earth System <ul><li>Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life </li></ul><ul><li>The four components of the Earth system are the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. </li></ul><ul><li>This energy powering the earth system is derived from the sun and Earth’s interior. </li></ul><ul><li>This system has evolving since the formation of the earth 4.6 billion years ago. </li></ul>
  33. 33. The Earth System Solar Energy Energy from Radioactive Decay
  34. 34. The Earth System <ul><li>The geosphere includes a metallic core, solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments. </li></ul><ul><li>The hydrosphere includes the ice, water vapor, and liquid water in the atmosphere, the ocean, lakes, streams, soils, and groundwater. </li></ul><ul><li>The atmosphere is the envelope of gas surrounding Earth. </li></ul><ul><li>The biosphere includes Earth’s life, which can be found in many parts of the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Time and Change in the Earth System <ul><li>The components of the earth system interact over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. These scales range from microscopic to global in size and operate over fractions of a second to billions of years. </li></ul><ul><li>The earth system may appear stable, change slowly over long periods of time, or change abruptly with significant consequences for living organisms. </li></ul><ul><li>Earth’s climate is an example of how complex interactions among systems can result in relatively sudden and significant changes. </li></ul>
  36. 36. The Geologic Past Provides a Window to the Future <ul><li>Earth scientists use their understanding of the past to forecast Earth’s future. </li></ul><ul><li>The geologic record contains rocks and fossils which provide clues to environmental changes in the throughout the 4.6 billion year history of the earth. </li></ul><ul><li>Geoscience research tells us how Earth functioned in the past under conditions not seen today and how conditions are likely to change in the future. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Life and the Earth System <ul><li>Life changes the physical and chemical properties of Earth’s geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. </li></ul><ul><li>The fossil record indicates that living organisms have changed composition the atmosphere and provided the substance of fossil fuel. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider this....Earth is the only planet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere and this atmosphere has existed for the past only about 25% of all of earth’s history </li></ul>
  38. 38. Life and the Earth System <ul><li>Stromatolites are one of the oldest fossilized forms of life, found in rock almost 3 billion years old. </li></ul><ul><li>They appear as layered mounds formed by the growth of layer upon layer of cyanobacteria , a single-celled photosynthesizing microbe growing on a sea floor. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Life and the Earth System <ul><li>Although simple, cyanobacteria was ultimately responsible for one of the most important &quot;global changes&quot; that the Earth has undergone. </li></ul><ul><li>Being photosynthetic, cyanobacteria produce oxygen as a by-product. Photosynthesis is the only major source of free oxygen gas in the atmosphere. </li></ul><ul><li>As stromatolites became more common 2.5 billion years ago, they gradually changed the Earth's atmosphere from a carbon dioxide-rich mixture to the present-day oxygen-rich atmosphere. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Humans and the Earth System <ul><li>Humans are part of the biosphere (just like stromatolites), and human activities have important impacts on all four spheres. </li></ul><ul><li>Humans are influencing the earth system at an ever increasing rate. </li></ul><ul><li>Humankind has become a geological agent that must be taken into account equally with natural processes in any attempt to understand the workings of Earth’s systems. </li></ul><ul><li>As human populations and per capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do our impacts on the Earth system. </li></ul>
  41. 41. The Earth System and Fossil Fuels <ul><li>The conditions to form fossil fuels (coal, petroleum) within the earth system have been rare in earth’s history. </li></ul><ul><li>There have been only six brief petroleum forming periods and two brief coal forming periods in the 4.6 billion year history of the earth. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus fossil fuel resources are finite and are ultimately limited by the earth system. </li></ul><ul><li>Note: The amount of available fossil fuel resources that humans can recover (extract) is limited by technology. </li></ul>