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What is Science?

What is Science?

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    1 decade ago
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    The word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.

    How do we define science? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world."

    What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

    What is the purpose of science? Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality.

    Most scientific investigations use some form of the scientific method. You can find out more about the scientific method here.

    Science as defined above is sometimes called pure science to differentiate it from applied science, which is the application of research to human needs. Fields of science are commonly classified along two major lines:

    - Natural sciences, the study of the natural world, and

    - Social sciences, the systematic study of human behavior and society.

  • 1 decade ago

    Science in the broadest sense refers to any system of knowledge attained by verifiable means.In a more restricted sense, science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on empiricism, experimentation, and methodological naturalism, as well as to the organized body of knowledge humans have gained by such research. This article focuses on the meaning of science in the latter sense.

    Scientists maintain that scientific investigation must adhere to the scientific method, a process for developing and evaluating natural explanations for observable phenomena based on empirical study and independent verification. Science typically, therefore, rejects supernatural explanations and arguments from authority.

    Fields of science are commonly classified along two major lines:

    Natural sciences, which study natural phenomena, and

    Social sciences, which study human behavior and societies.

    Whether mathematics is a science is a matter of perspective. It is similar to other sciences in that it is a careful, systematic study of an area of knowledge — specifically, it addresses such notions as quantity, structure, space, and change — but its method of arriving at conclusions is quite different, being based upon rigorous proof from prior results, ultimately resting upon fundamentally unprovable assumptions. Mathematics as a whole is vital to the sciences — indeed, major advances in mathematics have often led to major advances in other sciences. Certain aspects of mathematics are indispensable for the formation of hypotheses, theories, and laws, both in discovering and describing how things work (natural sciences) and how people think and act (social sciences).

    Science as defined above is sometimes termed pure science in order to differentiate it from applied science, the latter being the application of scientific research to human needs.

    The word science comes from the Latin word scientia for knowledge, which in turn comes from scio - I know. The Indo-European root means to discern or to separate, akin to Sanskrit chyati, he cuts off, Greek schizein, to split, Latin scindere, to split. From the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, science or scientia meant any systematic or exact recorded knowledge. Science therefore had the same sort of very broad meaning that philosophy had at that time. In some languages, including French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, the word corresponding to science still carries this meaning.

    From classical times until the advent of the modern era, philosophy was divided into natural philosophy and moral philosophy. In the 1800s, the term natural philosophy gradually gave way to the term natural science. Natural science was gradually specialized to its current domain, which typically includes the physical sciences and biological sciences. The social sciences, inheriting portions of the realm of moral philosophy, are currently also included under the auspices of science to the extent that these disciplines use empirical methods. As currently understood, moral philosophy still retains the study of ethics, regarded as a branch of philosophy and one of the three classical normative sciences.

    The earliest recorded scientific practices can be traced back to Egypt in North-East Africa. Isaac Asimov (a Russian-born American author) in his book Biographical Encyclopaedia of Science and Technology reports that science is a gift from Ancient Africa to the modern world. Imhotep (an Egyptian priest) was the first recorded person to practice Medicine. The earliest scientific centre could possibly have been the Library of Alexandria in Egypt (North-East Africa), where many notable early scientists like Euclid and Heron of Alexandria came to study. The Greeks also practiced science in its early forms but the oldest trace of science still lies in Egypt.

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