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The Science Portal
For a topic outline of science, see Outline of science.
Scientific method

Scientific method

Science is formed from methodical study of nature stemming from testable explanations and predictions. An older and closely related current meaning emerged from Aristotle, whereby "science" referred to the body of reliable knowledge that is logically and rationally explained (see "History and etymology" section below).

Since classical antiquity, science as a type of knowledge was closely linked to philosophy. During the Islamic Golden Age, the foundation for the scientific method was laid, which emphasized experimental data and reproducibility of results. In the West during the early modern period, the words "science" and "philosophy" were sometimes used interchangeably. Not until the 17th century did natural philosophy emerge as a separate branch of philosophy, which is today called "natural science". "Science" continued to denote reliable knowledge about a topic; it remains in use in modern terms such as library science or political science.

The ever-evolving term "science" contemporarily refers to the pursuit of knowledge, not the knowledge itself. It is often synonymous with "natural and physical science" and often restricted to those branches of study relating to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws. Although the term implies exclusion of pure mathematics, many university faculties include Mathematics Departments within their Faculty of Science. The dominant sense in ordinary use has a narrower use for the term "science." It developed as a part of science becoming a distinct enterprise of defining the "laws of nature"; early examples include Kepler's laws, Galileo's laws, and Newton's laws of motion. In this period it became more common to refer to natural philosophy as "natural science." Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with the disciplined study of the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology. This sometimes left the study of human thought and society in a linguistic limbo, which was resolved by classifying these areas of academic study as social science. For example, psychology evolved from philosophy, and has grown into an area of study.

Currently, there are both "hard" (e.g. biological psychology) and "soft" science (e.g. social psychology) fields within the discipline. As a result, and as is consistent with the unfolding of the study of knowledge and development of methods to establish facts, each area of psychology employs a scientific method. Reflecting the evolution of the development of knowledge and established facts and the use of the scientific method, Psychology Departments in universities are found within: Faculty of Arts and Science, Faculty of Arts, and a Faculty of Science. Similarly, several other major areas of disciplined study and knowledge exist today under the general rubric of "science", such as formal science and applied science.

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Molecular model of hydrogen chloride
Hydrogen chloride, also known under the name HCl, is a highly corrosive and toxic colorless gas that forms white fumes on contact with humidity. These fumes consist of hydrochloric acid which forms when hydrogen chloride dissolves in water. Hydrogen chloride gas as well as hydrochloric acid are important chemicals in chemistry, science, technology, and industry. The name HCl often refers somewhat misleadingly to hydrochloric acid instead of the gaseous hydrogen chloride.

Hydrogen chloride forms corrosive hydrochloric acid on contact with body tissue. Inhalation of the fumes can cause coughing, choking, inflammation of the nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract, and in severe cases, pulmonary edema, circulatory system failure, and death. Skin contact can cause redness, pain, and severe skin burns. Hydrogen chloride may cause severe burns to the eye and permanent eye damage.

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Skull and craniometric measurement apparatus, from 1902.
Credit: Fawcett & Lee

Craniometry is the technique of measuring the bones of the skull. Craniometry was once intensively practiced in anthropology and ethnology. Human skulls can be classified into three main categories based on cephalic index: dolichocephalic: long and thin; brachycephalic: short and broad; mesocephalic: intermediate length and breadth.

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Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrobiologist, and highly successful science popularizer. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He is world-famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was the most-watched PBS program until Ken Burns' The Civil War in 1990. A book to accompany the program was also published. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for the 1997 film of the same name starring Jodie Foster. During his lifetime, Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he frequently advocated scientific skepticism, humanism, and the scientific method.

Did you know...

Polytechnical_Institute

  • ...that Scientists and Engineers for America is an organization focused on promoting sound science in government, and backing political candidates who support science and its applications?
  • ...that walking fish can actually skip, crawl, slither, and even climb trees?

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