Phenomenology (science)

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The term phenomenology in science is used to describe a body of knowledge that relates empirical observations of phenomena to each other, in a way that is consistent with fundamental theory, but is not directly derived from theory (though they may incorporate principles and laws associated with theories). Regression models, for example, are a standard form of such descriptions.[1]

For example, we find the following definition in the Concise Dictionary of Physics:

Phenomenological Theory. A theory that expresses mathematically the results of observed phenomena without paying detailed attention to their fundamental significance.[2]

Phenomenology typically refrains from any attempts to explain why the variables interact the way they do (or any underlying mechanisms), and simply attempts to describe the relationship, with the assumption that the relationship extends past the measured values.[3]

As an example, the liquid drop model of the atomic nucleus describes the nucleus as analogous to a liquid drop and ascribes to it the kind of properties a liquid drop would have (surface tension and charge, among others) which may be calculated from other theories (hydrodynamics and electrodynamics, respectively). Certain aspects of these theories—though usually not the complete theory—are then used to determine both the static and dynamical properties of the nucleus.[4]

The name is derived from phenomenon (Greek φαινόμενoν, pl. φαινόμενα - phenomena), which is any occurrence that is observable, and -λογία - -logia, translated as "study of" or "research".

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Hilborn, Ray; Mangel, Marc. "The Ecological Detective: Confronting Models with Data". Monographs in Population Biology 28. doi:10.1023/A%3A1008861700420. 
  2. ^ Thewlis, J. (1973). Concise dictionary of physics and related subjects (1st ed.). Oxford: Pergamon Press. p. 248. ISBN 9780080169002. 
  3. ^ Hilborn, Ray; Mangel, Marc. "The Ecological Detective: Confronting Models with Data". Monographs in Population Biology 28. doi:10.1023/A%3A1008861700420. 
  4. ^ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/models-science/