Science is derived from the Latin word ‘Scientia’, which means knowledge, so you can kinda/sorta say that every subject is the branch of knowledge/Science. There’s an old saying that Wisdom and learning come from observing the world around us, which encompasses the definition of knowledge. However, Science works on scientific methods: facts, observation, analysis, hypothesis, experiments, verification, reviews, and so on. Science basically is the systematic knowledge about how the things in the universe work followed by proofs and evidence. Knowledge without factual conclusions may not be universal or rather based on just observation fueled by numerous speculations and conjectures. Some people think the world is flat, despite a lot of images revealed by space agencies. Roads are flat. Oceans are mostly flat. Poor Science will tell you that the Earth is flat. We also have climate skeptics. The only reason behind all these skepticism is that we are only taught sciences in highschool or college, but not how it works/functions.
The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Modern Science is generally divided into three major branches: natural science, social sciences, and formal sciences. Medicines, mobiles, Satellites, spacecraft, etc are the results of applied Science. How does the scientific method actually work? Even though human organs have limitations, Science can explore the vast hidden Cosmos. How come Satellites fly (orbit) in space (Planets) with such stability? How are scientists so sure that the universe is nearly 14 billion years old?
I think the best thing about Science is that Science makes modifications and updates. Wikipedia says, “the scientific method is an iterative, cyclical process through which information is continually revised.” The theory of relativity explains Gravity geometrically; quantum physics (more specifically particle physics) explains it via particle (Gravitons). So what? Gravity is still a force. We don’t use special relativity to launch Satellites into orbit. Classical Physics works pretty fine there; however, it raises some questions: What’s the point in relying on such theories which we once call universal but not now? Does that mean constant change with time? To put it simply, it’s intellectually lazy to stop everything and do nothing. The pleasure is finding things out. We will also be discussing by the side of Science deniers. That is to say, the Scientific method is crap and outdated.
Although we humans cut nature up in different ways, and we have different courses in different departments, such compartmentalization is really artificial… The imagination of nature is far, far greater than the imagination of man.Richard P. Feynman
What is Scientific method?
The scientific method is a process of figuring out the principles that govern the phenomenon you observed — the outcomes can be out of reach of human senses. Scientific methods mostly rely on tests, mathematics, and experiments. It does take empiricism into an account. That is to say, knowledge is generated primarily from sensory experiences. However, empirical insights may give rise to the conceptualization of abstract concepts. Mathematics plays quite a beautiful role in the speculations obtained from empirical data. For an analogy, the concept of the black hole, in essence, Singularity goes in alignment with abstractness. Although black hole has weird geometry, Science successfully theorized its entropy. The scientific method also includes skepticism as Science is the culture of doubts, not faiths. Moreover, the knowledge and insights we obtained from the scientific method till now do have a lot of unavoidable limitations: the shortest possible measurement, Planck length; the shortest possible time, plack time; the inability of 100% efficient machines, ideal machine; and many more else. As we learn more about our universe, science disabilities keep on fading or finding an alternative. Numerous theories and the philosophers of science and science fiction authors presented several ideas for the furtherance of sciences beyond its present limitations.
At first glance, the Scientific method may seem quite slow and is true. Scientific thesis/papers have to be inspected rigorously. Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted the existence of gravitational waves more than a century ago; however, they awarded the Nobel prize to three physicists (Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish) on October 3, 2017, for directly detecting the gravitational waves through the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) — which was long after Einstein’s death. Similarly, Thomas Young showed that light added to light could produce more light—or, most surprisingly, darkness. His radical idea wasn’t appreciated in the scientific community for decades. Now, his double-slit experiment plays a major role in the wave-particle duality. This experiment alone makes quantum mechanics probabilistic. Not only probabilistic but quantum mechanics is worse than that.
How does Scientific method work?
Science runs on the Scientific method. Science is generated from curiosity, the curiosity to know, Scientia. The overall process of Scientific method involves making an observation/observations, questions the observation and accumulate informations, form a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, perform the experiments to justify hypothesis. The stepwise scientific method is described below briefly:
1: Making observations and asking questions
The very first step of the scientific method involves observing some phenomenon/phenomena and questioning its simplicity and absurdness as well. For example, How does the object fall? Why does the object only fall downward not sideways or upward? The formulation of questions is not only limited to the discovery of phenomena but also to unsolved Scientific issues: what is consciousness, what kind of drugs is going to overcome AIDS ?
The more we learn about our universe or more generally, the reality — the more disenchantment one feels about the nature of reality. What is reality made up of? Everything is just matter and energy, though we seem to have living cells and memories and emotions. The stars up in the sky are made up of the same atoms that we are comprised of. Living cells are made up of molecules. Those molecules are simply the combination of atoms. If we dig in more deeply, we end up with quarks. The conventional idea stops here and string theory comes into play. Unfortunately, string theory is unable to elucidate the true nature of reality. There’s an experiment, the double-slit experiment. When electrons are observed, they show particle nature. when not observed, they show wave nature as if the observation affects reality. This is popularly addressed as the observer’s effect. The Observer’s effect is also associated with the classical world: the arrangements (series or parallel) of ammeter and voltmeter in-circuit have an impact on its measurement. Furthermore, the speed of light is constant, implying that we are not seeing what it is but what it was. If you see an object 1 metre far from you, you are actually seeing what that object looks like 0.000000003 sec earlier.
2: Hypothesis and prediction
A hypothesis is a speculative description drawn out from contemplation and preliminary data, predicting the explanation of the phenomenon generated from observation, which may or may not be true as it lacks the confirmation by experiments. The hypothesis might be quite specific. for example, considering the above observation one may hypothesize that an object falls because of mass and also its velocity directly proportional to the mass. That is to say, the heavier object falls earlier than the lighter object. This seems pretty intuitive. One can also hypothesize that an object falls because the density of an object is more than the density of air.
While proposing the Scientific hypothesis, the below-listed points must be taken into account according to Schick and Vaughn.
★ Testability or hypothetico-deductive model: Ability to determine the state of empirical hypothesis, in essence, true or false, from experimentation. It involves two components: falsifiability or defeasibility (meaning that there must be the possible negative answer/counteract/counterexamples to the hypothesis), and analyzing the counterparts (meaning that counterexamples should be experimented a multiple times with a higher degree of precision by different researchers implying the same methodology).
★ Law of parsimony: This law signifies the declination of multiple entities without necessity, encouraging the concept that the simplest (short and sweet) is usually the effective/right one.
★ Scope and fruitfulness: wide range of application of the hypothesis. And also can unravel further fruitful phenomena shortly.
★ Conservatism: Justifiable based on ongoing recognized knowledge systems.
Apart from all these, scientific research must involve deductive and inductive reasoning. For example, Physicist James Clerk Maxwell calculated the speed of light which turns out to be equivalent to the speed of electromagnetic waves, so he conceptualized that light is an electromagnetic wave. And he was right.
3: Tests and experiments
This step involves the testing of hypotheses by conducting a series of experiments, searching the evidence that will either support or refute the hypotheses. The role of tests and experiments is to verify the degree of acknowledgment made my real world with what predicted by the hypothesis. Let’s again bring our old friend back, the principle behind fall. We previously hypothesized the speed at which an object should fall. In the experiment: we drop a feather and an apple from the top of the Eiffel tower. We observed that an apple falls quicker than a feather. This concludes that the velocity of a falling object is actually directly proportional to the mass.
But not so fast! Agreement by experiments doesn’t make that hypothesis a hundred percent true. Experiments should be carried out to falsify the hypothesis as far as possible; otherwise, future experiments may invite the failure of accepted explanations. In this case, if we drop an apple and a feather in a vacuumed environment, we will encounter that they both fall at the same rate. The failure of hypothesis by experiments doesn’t make previous hypothesis wrong either. An experiment should make use of an experimental group as well as a control group. The control group is what the experimental group is compared against. To be honest, we didn’t perform a convincing experiment. The precision of the hypothesis matters and so does the experiments. Experiments should be conducted in such a way that there would be fewer possible errors, often done through the use of suitable scientific controls — to reduce the effect of variables other than independent variables. For example, tests of medical treatments are carried out via double-blind tests. Similarly, the error in tools and equipment used while experimentation can also alter the result. Our experiment wasn’t convincing because we ignored the terms like independent variables and dependent variables. That is to say, we didn’t eliminate extraneous variables. Independent variable is the one that we can change its magnitude at will like in this case — we have masses. The velocity at which an object falls is dependent upon independent variables in a non-vacuumed environment, making the rate of fall a dependent variable. For an appropriate Scientific experiment, we must drop two objects that are identical in every way except their masses. Let’s say we drop two balls of mass 30 kg and 60kg from the top of the Eiffel tower, we will find out that they both fall at the same rate. Now the same balls are made to fall in a vacuumed environment, they both fall precisely at the same rate. The density is highly unlikely to describe the falling of an object. Density is a scalar quantity, having no direction. If that’s the case, then why is the object only falling downward, not sideways or upward? To explain why some phenomena happen, we need a theory. From here on, we can conclude that the rate at which objects fall is the same for all bodies either heavy or light in the absence of air resistance.
4: A fact and a scientific fact
A fact is just an observation around the world that can be experienced or witnessed by the human senses. Witnessed by human experience in the sense that some facts are accepted as facts even though we never can experience them. Leonardo Da Vici predicted Gravity and evolution long before Sir Issac Newton and Charles Darwin respectively. We didn’t see that, but we do have written notes by Leonardo Da Vinci predicting such scientific phenomena. Mister A was dead 150 years ago. It has been witnessed by someone, but you can’t experience it by your senses apart from written evidence like books. A Scientific fact is basically the summary of an emprical evidence. An apple falls quicker than a feather, that’s a fact. It’s a fact that the sun is yellow and is burning. A scientific fact is a fact that has been verified by a series of careful observations and experiments. Every object falls at the same rate in absence of air resistance — it’s a scientific fact. Sun doesn’t burn and is not yellow. That’s a scientific fact. The sun actually is white and doesn’t burn, since it lacks oxygen.
Scientific facts need to be quite accurate and the observer-independent. That means, wherever you go, the conclusion agrees with the fact for everyone, not just for a particular individual. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But nowhere in the universe, it has been marked east or west. Unless you take something as the frame of reference, there will be no right, left, east, west, etc in space. Moreover, the sun neither rises nor sets. It’s the earth that rotates around the sun. Now, this is a scientific fact.
Some creationists believe it is a fact that the human race came from Adam and Eve and the theory of evolution is a lie. The way our universe works on the quantum scale (Quantum mechanics) makes me feel as if the universe was created by some ghosts, but not God, just in case if the universe needs a creator.
Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.Niels Bohr
Neither Galileo Galilei nor Charles Darwin was atheists. Galileo was sentenced to whole life imprisonment for claiming a true scientific fact that the Earth rotates around the sun. Earth is also not the center of the universe. God exists or not, matters not. They simply meant that religious teachings are not fully correct.
5: A Scientific theory
The general definition of theory is not the same as a scientific theory. The United States National Academy of Sciences defines scientific theories as a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence. We have performed a lot of experiments back then to figure out the principle describing the falling of an object. Sir Isaac Newton studied the work of Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler (Law of Planetary motion) and proposed the Theory of Gravitation. An object falls on Earth because it has mass and that mass is attracted by the Earth towards its center.
Unless a theory is consistent with the Scientific method and fulfilling the criteria of modern science as well, it can’t be regarded as a scientific theory. A scientific theory is generated from repetitive observation, repetitive experiments, repetitive testing, repetitive measurement, and evaluation of results. Unfortunately, not all theories are compatible to be verified experimentally, in such a case, abductive reasoning should be taken into account. Such theories have endured years of experimental confirmation before receiving acceptance by the majority of the scientific community. In physics, a theory is generally associated with a mathematical construct. From the Theory of Gravitation, Newton figured out that the attraction between two objects can be clarified with a simple equation (see the image below). This equation is capable of explaining the attraction between two objects from lighter bodies to massive bodies like planets; however, scientific theory can be a bit inaccurate and still scientifically useful. A scientific theory may be modified or rejected based on the additional evidence. Scientists favor tending the theory that can explain most of the data or a wider range of phenomena. If you insert low mass and low speed into Einstein’s equations, they literally or rather mathematically become Newton’s equations. Special relativity becomes classical relativity at a lower velocity. We still use Newton’s theory to shoot probes to Pluto, which implies that a theory can be used to do predictive calculations. Using our theory of gravitation, we can calculate the exact spot and time of space probes.
I have heard from a lot of people that evolution is just a theory, not a fact. If the word theory makes Science wrong, then every other theory is wrong, which is the sign of a complete lack of intellectual integrity. Many Scientific theories are so flawless that no evidence is likely to contradict or alter them substantially. None of the future theory can contradict the heliocentric Theory — Earth rotates around the sun. None of the evidence can assure that living beings are not made of cells, the cell theory. The theory of biological evolution is as factual as the oxygen theory of combustion or germs theory of diseases or atomic theory of matter. However, Scientific theories and laws are two different things. The theory is concerned with “why” and “How”. A Scientific theory may contain several laws. Likewise, theories and laws are simply scientific facts, but not the same as hypotheses. Nonetheless, theories are distinct from facts even after well-supported or favored. For example, the theory of evolution is both a theory and a fact. scientific theories are testable, quantitative, and also capable of falsifiable predictions, meaning that they subject to predictive and explanatory power, since they roll both inductive and deductive reasoning. Dmitri Mendeleev’s theory about the periodic table predicted several undiscovered elements. Experimental outcomes may contradict the prediction achieved by theory, then the search for new modification/theory begins after evaluating the experiments with a higher degree of accuracy and reproducibility (replication) by multiple independent groups. Some theories are so accurate that they don’t need modification; infact, we keep on accumulating evidence that strongly supports the theories. The longer the theory remains accepted, the higher the probability of finding out evidence.
Sometimes, a theory is already supported by strongly sufficient evidence, in such a case, a theory is accepted despite being all of its major predictions tested. Some predictions made by theories can neither be proven incorrect nor can be confirmed by any technical means or at least not from present technology (the silicon-based technology), then predictions may be described informally with the term ‘theoretical’. No any theory or any knowledge of science can be a hundred percent certain, the imperfection matters a lot. Future technology (more likely to be a quantum technology) and experiments may lead to modification of the theory or can even be discarded. The geocentric model, spontaneous generation, theory of ether, are the few of many theories discarded in favor of better ones. The good thing is that the modification of theory accelerates the predictive power to a greater degree — even unimaginable under the old way of thinking, and hence competent in describing more and more phenomena. Einstein’s theory of relativity provides the best evidence for the existence of such matter that doesn’t commonly interact with ordinary matters and radiations, in essence, dark matter. The extra gravity (mass) that the universe seems to have is wonderfully verified by Gravitational lensing. Modifications don’t always necessarily need to be rudimentary;oftentimes, it turns out to be darn good. In science, modification of theories can lead to unification. Previously, it was thought that electricity and magnetism are two different things, but now we know that they are the different manifestations of the same phenomena, electromagnetism.
Here’s a question. If I asked you to imagine nothing, what would it be like? If I asked you to imagine a perfect world, what would it be like? A perfect world would simply be meaningless.
6: Scientific Laws
Scientific laws are the statements applicable and replicable by the physical system, which Summarizes the outcomes or predictions generated from the observed phenomena or experiments. Like theory, a law also needs careful observations, precise experiments and testing before gaining the precious respect in Scientific community. A scientific law is simply a tool reflecting the consequences of the fundamentals aspects of the universe, implies that they mostly do not remain on hypothetical realms but empirical evidence. Unlike theory, a law is neither concerned with ‘why’ nor ‘what’, but with the description of an observed phenomenon. After careful observations and experiments, we performed back then, now it is confirmed that every object attracts each other, so it is a law or more generally, Newton’s universal law of gravitation.
The theory is inferior to law — a popular myth. People deny theories by calling it just a theory, but neither a fact nor universal. Nevertheless, you have barely heard someone saying that it is just a law, not a fact. The principle of conservation of energy is valid everywhere, though it doesn’t include the word universal in it. Many people think that the Scientific method goes something like this: hypothesis, confirmation of hypothesis will lead to theory, and accumulation of enough data and evidence will upgrade that theory into a law, but that’s not how it works. A law is discovered not invented. A theory worths are more than a law. Scientific laws are descriptions for how the phenomena will work in a very specific set of circumstances or under provided or certain conditions. For example, Newton’s universal law of Gravitation works only in a weak gravitational field, Hooke’s law can’t explain beyond the elastic limit, and so on. A scientific theory can encompass several laws with wonderful predictions. A Theory explains why or how the objects attract each other, while a law just explains a particular phenomenon straightforward. To put it simply, Scientific theories are the in-depth explanation of a particular observed phenomenon. Meanwhile, a law is an explanation of just what happens or a unifying concept. Newton’s law doesn’t explain how gravity works, for that — we need a theory. Einstein’s theory of general relativity (the modification of Newton’s Theory of Gravitation) explains that the spacetime is warped around massive objects, thus explaining how gravity works or why one mass attracts another mass towards its center and vice versa. A theory remains a theory because it is an explanation of why something happens. Likewise, the law remains a law because it is an explanation of what happens. “Both theories and laws could potentially be falsified by countervailing evidence.”, Wikipedia says. The laws are not absolute like every knowledge of science. Some Classical Physics laws break down at the quantum scale, quantum physics. Although the law can be contradicted or extended or evolve over time based on future observation; however, modifications of a theory don’t change the accuracy of law or mathematics involved — but the scope of the law’s application as they recapitulate the information and data regarding what happens. Law can make quite specific predictions, more specifically, the new observation will abide by the law. For example, if you drop an apple on Earth, moon, and vacuum, they will fall under all three cases and don’t deny the prediction. But the acceleration of fall may vary since laws are applicable for a certain range of applications.
The laws are mostly based on empirical data or Scientific experiments; thereby, the mathematical representation (the equation) is unlikely to be a mathematics theorem that can be proved purely by mathematics. The law of conservation of energy, momentum, angular momentum charge, and many more else can be expressed with mathematical equations and are empirical.