Topic02 -Doing_Science - How do we answer the question What...

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How do we answer the question - What is Science? We can approach the question from several perspectives: (1) What is the public perception of science? (2) What are class definitions of science? ( 3 ) Define some possible elements of science. Knowable Universe Imperfect Model of the Universe Doing Science Imperfect Scientists ( 4 ) What is non-science?
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Third Box: Doing Science Let us define ‘doing science’ as an approach to problem solving or method of attainment of knowledge about natural world . The result of ‘doing science’ would be our second box - A model of the Universe. This raises the question: what is the “approach” or “method” for doing science?
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Simplistic Answer is Scientific Method a) Starting point: Ask a simple question or make an initial observation of the natural world. b) Make more observations - collect ‘data’. c) Develop a hypothesis from these observations. d) Use a hypothesis to make a prediction and test by further observations. e) Eventually develop a theory.
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Some Initial Definitions Logic - The study of the principles of correct reasoning. Deductive reasoning - an accepted general statement (true or false) is applied to an individual case: e.g., all dogs are animals; this is a dog; therefore this is an animal . When the general premise in deductive reasoning is true, the deduction from it will be true for all possible instances. Inductive reasoning - a set of individual cases is studied and, from the observations a general principle is formed: every metal I have tested expands when heated; therefore I can expect all metals to expand when heated . In practice, the general statement is considered valid if it is (1) derived from a large number of observations which (2) have been repeated under a variety of conditions, and for which (3) no accepted observation is in conflict with it. Empirical Method or Empiricism - relying on practical experience or observations as the sole source of knowledge (the result is empirical facts of DeWitt). Falsification - testing an idea by trying to find an exception; for example finding observations which go against a particular theory would invalidate it.
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Scientific Method (a) - pose a question/make an observation Doing either helps focus data collection; Posing a good scientific question requires a certain background; Posing a good question also takes creativity. Sometimes making the right observation also takes special creativity (or at least the right mindset)
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Scientific Method (b) - Data Collection Fact = things that happen or exist (but see DeWitt for a better understanding of how complicated and uncertain ‘facts’ can be.). Datum = representation of fact. Must occur.
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  • Summer '07
  • 09:30-10:50
  • Science, Science Versus Nonscience

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