Introduction 2007

Introduction 2007 - Astronomy 0088: Stonehenge to Hubble...

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Unformatted text preview: Astronomy 0088: Stonehenge to Hubble John G. Radzilowicz Carnegie Science Center What is Science? "We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces ..." Carl Sagan So... What is science ?? From the Latin: Scientia"knowledge" and Scio "to know" "Science is the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories." E.O.Wilson and... Technology From the Greek: technikos "the art of building" Technology is the application of science to human purposes. Science / = Technology Science as a "way of knowing" Science as a "belief system" Science as a "worldview" Science as a "path to truth" Science has only two 1 An objective reality exists. 2 Humans can gain Everything else is subject to evidence tested against nature! knowledge about the nature of this reality. beliefs: Scientific Naturalism The Scientific method is naturalistic. It seeks to explain nature in terms of natural processes. The alternative is supernaturalism, and it negates the two beliefs of science and makes the The Basis of Science The free and open exchange of information. Acceptance that science is a product of nature not culture, not religion, not politics. An unrestricted pursuit of knowledge independent of self-interest. Science is based on what is, and not what should be or what we wish to be. "SCIENTIFIC METHOD" QUESTION OBSERVATION HYPOTHESIS TEST/EXPERIMENT REVISE THE MEANING OF WORDS: law cts fa hypo thes is ory the ta a d FACTS: Confirmed Observations HYPOTHESES: Informed statements about relationships among things. LAWS: Generalizations about how things will happen under certain conditions. Often mathematical. Theories: Well substantiated explanations of some aspect of the natural world. POPULAR Rank Facts Laws Theories Hypotheses SCIENCE Rank Theories Laws Hypotheses Facts SCIENCE CLAIMS NO ABSOLUTE TRUTH ! Science is truth without certainty! "The scientist believes in proof without certainty, the bigot in certainty without proof." Ashley Montagu GOOD SCIENCE IS ALWAYS AN UNEASY BALANCING ACT BETWEEN WONDER AND SKEPTICISM ! the REALITY vs the IDEAL SCIENCE IS A HUMAN ENDEAVOUR, FOR BETTER AND/OR FOR WORSE ! "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck SUMMARY: Science is the best way of knowing about the natural world. It involves testing explanations about nature against nature itself. It discards the explanations that don't work, and provisionally accepts those that do. Self correction is its key strength. Science is the honest search for true knowledge about the real world. "All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlikeand yet it is the most precious thing we have" Albert Einstein ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ASTRON 0088 taught by Professor Radzilowicz during the Spring '08 term at Pittsburgh.

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