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So Many Sciences
When we say science, we mean any of a number of sciences, each of which studies its own area. They can be closely related, like Physics and Mathematics; have areas of overlap, such as Computer Science and Biology; or they can be wildly different like Astronomy and Zoology.
- How can there be such a disparate group of studies all under the umbrella of Science?
- What do they have in common?
Reason and Evidence
Science relies on reason and evidence. In science, you may start out with a theory, but if the evidence does not support your theory, you reject your theory, not your evidence. You then use reason and your evidence to come up with a new theory.
There are fields and practices that claim to be scientific, but do not have the required scientific rigor. These are called Pseudosciences. They do not follow the Scientific method and their experiments are unverifiable or they do not have enough evidence for the conculsions they draw. A popular example of a pseudoscience is Astrology.
Richard Feynman - The Key to Science
One of the defining features of science is the Scientific Method, which has several steps.
- The first step is to decide what you want to find. Say, you want to find out the fastest way to get to UTEP from your home.
- Then you develop a hypothesis. For example, it will be faster to drive than to take the bus.
- Then you test your hypothesis and control for errors or other variables. You drive several days, and take the bus several days. Say you have to be at class at 9 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but not till 12 on Tuesday and Thursday. So you leave at about the same time for each period (such as 8 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 11 on Tuesday and Thursday), have both driving and bus runs for each time period you leave.
- After you have run the experiment multiple times, you analyze your results. You cannot compare driving at 8 on Monday with taking the bus at 11 on Tuesday, but you can compare driving at 8 on Monday with taking the bus at 8 on Wednesday, and taking the bus Tuesday at 11 with driving Thursday at 11. You don't count the time there was an incident on the road and it took an extra 40 minutes to get to UTEP.
- From your analysis, you draw conclusions and you find that it is a little faster to drive Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and that it is significantly faster to take the bus Tuesday and Thursday. And you act accordingly. If a friend repeats your experiment and comes up with the same results, then your results are verifiable.
What could you do to refine or expand this experiment?
xkcd: The Difference
xkcd: The Difference, by Randall Monroe