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Culture, Life, origins, Technology

What is Science?

What is Science?

Well when most people think of science I believe they are thinking of this definition (from Dictionary.com):

Science: systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

That’s what I’ve always thought of.  If you drop an object you can measure its acceleration as it falls.  You can repeat that over and over again and you get that an object accelerates toward the earth at 9.8 mps2.  You can test and see that in a vacuum everything accelerates at that speed regardless of weight.  That is of course a simple example.  There are many others.  It is this type of science that makes your car run or your computer work or sends a rocket to the moon.

Some people call that observational science.  The fields of science that you can actually use the scientific method on (the method got that name for a reason).  They do this to differentiate between it and the fields of study that utilize facts observed through science but have conclusions that are not observable or repeatable.

For example we could look at comets.  It is a well-established fact that because of the nature of comets they cannot exist for long (perhaps a few thousand to a few hundred thousand years).  Every time they pass through the solar system more and more of their matter is blown off.  That’s what the tail of a comet is and why it always points away from the sun.  The sun is blowing particles off the comet (the tail of the comet is out in front when it is moving away from the sun).  So, with the calculated age of the universe being 4.6 billion years (more on that in a later post) why do we have comets.  We know we do and we know that they shouldn’t be here if the universe is 4.6 BYO.  So a scientist by the name of Jan Hendrik Oort came up with a theory of a cloud of potential comets that exist outside the solar system that occasionally throws in a comet every once in a while.  No one has ever observed this cloud (the Oort Cloud) nor could they (it’s much too far away to see even with the best telescopes).  Therefore the Oort Cloud, as shrouded in scientific terms as it is, cannot really be called observable science (I would argue it’s not science at all but I’ll budge on this).  You will, however, find it in science books about the solar system.  Why is that?

I think I know, but what do you think?  I think it has to do with human nature and the way we look at the world around us.  But I’ll give my answer later, if anyone cares to hear it.



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