Science & The Scientific Method

The word "scientist," used to describe a person who inquires into the natural world was not coined until 1833. Prior to that, such thinkers were called "natural philosophers, "and the men (an occasional women) who pursued scientific inquiry were mostly aristocratic "amateurs" who paid their own way.
Modern science developed during the "scientific revolution" of 16th & 17th century Europe. People like Copernicus, Kepler and Newton developed mathematical approaches to understanding the natural world and describing phenomena. Modern science require rigorous experimentation and repeatable results. It describes and predicts based on empirical evidence. Peer review is part of the process and used to ensure the validity of scientific advances. Even our understanding of the universe is the result of careful observation and mathematical inquiry. It is speculative, but not "philosophy—" which is to say, it is based on evidence and method, not opinion, scripture or preference.

The Scientific Method

scientific_method2.gifHow it Works:The Scientific Method is the process by which scientists, collectively and over time, endeavor to construct an accurate (that is, reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary) representation of the world.
Recognizing that personal and cultural beliefs influence both our perceptions and our interpretations of natural phenomena, we aim through the use of standard procedures and criteria to minimize those influences when developing a theory. The scientific method attempts to minimize the influence of bias or prejudice in the experimenter when testing an hypothesis or a theory.

The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.
How Theory Becomes Acceptable to Science (2017)


What is a science? Richard Feynman (excellent!)

What is Science?

Some Interesting Links

Critical Thinking
Scientific Method & Legal System
Scientific Method
Richard Dawkins, Trust Science
Feynman, Scientific Method
2012 Sun Spot Cycle & Holes in the Magnetic Field

Future of Science, 2021

How a Wing Works (an example of science in motion)
Creating a Fire Tornado
Chemical Bonds: Dogs Teaching Chemistry
What's Invisible?


Science & Ethics

Sherlock Holmes

Here's a clip from a Sherlock Holmes episode produced by the BBC in the 1980s. In it Holmes is establishing the character of a man he's never met simply by examining his hat and following the clues. As discussed on the wiki page on Inductive and Deductive reasoning, Holmes basically uses Inductive reasoning to arrive at his conclusions. He establishes premises and then arrives at his conclusions based on them.

New Controversy: Is that a UFO?

On April 24, 2012, a camera on NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) seemed to capture the image of something very large and artificially constructed hovering perilously close to the sun. Nathan Rich, a scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory has said the streaks in question are consistent with energetic particle (proton) impacts—essentially a collection of streaks of cosmic rays hitting the camera's CCD sensor.
NASA Sighting, April 2012
Huffington Post Report, April 2012
Questions & Debate, April 2012
More Debate, April 2012

Science in the Action

Update April 2012: Project Leaders Resign After No-Confidence Vote
Here's a perfect of example of how scientists work in the "real" world. In the fall of 2011 a discovery was announced by main stream science. It was a radical discovery, which if true would change our basic understanding of the speed limit posed by light. The team of scientists putting forth the hypothesis essentially asked the entire scientific community for help. They could not disprove their findings and wanted scientists from outside their team to try. This is the vetting process and any theory that becomes accepted must go through it. The more radical the theory, the more rigorous the efforts to disprove it. Ultimately their findings were disproved.

Visions of Warp Drives Dance in Our Heads.
Neutrinos are tiny subatomic particles, so small, scientists first thought they had no mass. They carry no electrical charge and aren't affected by electromagnetic forces. Because of this, they pass unaffected through great distances of ordinary matter as effortlessly as a bullet passes through a bank of fog. Neutrinos are created during nuclear reactions taking place in the Sun and when a supernova explodes. Most neutrinos passing through the Earth emanate from the Sun. They are part of the natural background radiation. Nuclear reactors (power plants) generate large quantities of human-manufactured neutrinos, as do nuclear bombs.

On September 22, 2011, Italian physicists shocked the scientific world by announcing that after three years of observation, evidence indicates neutrinos can move faster than the speed of light, something Einstein's famed theory of relativity claims impossible. Their experiment sent beams of neutrinos from a particle accelerator at CERN to a detector in the Gran Sasso cavern in Italy, 730 kilometers away. "We tried to find all possible explanations for this," physicist Antonio Ereditato told the BBC. "We wanted to find a mistake—trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects—and we didn't." A spokesman for CERN remains skeptical, as do many other scientists. "The feeling that most people have is this can’t be right, this can’t be real." In fact, "if neutrinos are traveling faster than light speed, one of the most fundamental assumptions of science — that the rules of physics are the same for all observers — would be invalidated."

Reporting on the subject:
Faster than Light?
BBC Report on Neutrinos & the Speed of Light
New Science Report
London Telegraph Report
More news
More Commentary
More on neutrinos.
Naughty Neutrinos

Running the experiment again
MSNBC — Not So Fast After All
Another Not so Fast
10/16/2011 — Probably a Flaw in the Experiment
11/14/2011 It's Still Undecided
Blog Post 11/14/2011
Another Blog Post 11/6/2011
One Mistake Eliminated 11/18/2011
MSNBC Confirmation 11/18/2011
Reuters Confirmation 11/18/2011


This Advertisement for the new Honda Accord was shot in real time with no CGI involved in the sequence. It required 606 takes and cost $6 million to shoot and took 3 months to complete.