Scientists use systematic methods of study to make observations and collect facts. They then work to develop theories that help them order or unify related facts. Scientific theories consist of general principles or laws that attempt to explain how and why something happens or happened. Science advances as scientists accumulate more detailed facts and gain a better understanding of these fundamental principles and laws.
A theory developed by a scientist cannot be accepted as part of scientific knowledge until it has been verified by the studies and experiments of other researchers. In fact, for any knowledge to be truly scientific, it must be repeatedly tested experimentally and found to be true. This characteristic of science sets it apart from other branches of knowledge. For example, the humanities, which include religion, philosophy, and the arts, deal with ideas about human nature and the meaning of life. Such ideas cannot be scientifically proved. There is no test that tells whether a philosophical system is "right." No one can determine scientifically what feeling an artist tried to express in a painting. Nor can anyone perform an experiment to check for an error in a poem or a symphony.
Science also differs from other types of knowledge in that scientific progress depends on new ideas expanding or replacing old ones. Great works of art produced today do not take the place of masterpieces of the past. But the theories of modern scientists have revised many ideas held by earlier scientists. Repeated observations and experiments lead scientists to update existing theories and to propose new ones. As new discoveries continue to be made, even many recent scientific theories will become outdated and will have to be replaced by better theories that can explain more facts. In this way, scientific knowledge is always growing and improving.
The importance of science
Science has enormous influence on our lives. It provides the basis of much of modern technology--the tools,materials, techniques, and sources of power that make our lives and work easier. The term applied science is sometimes used to refer to scientific research that concentrates on the development of technology. The discoveries of scientists also help shape our views about ourselves and our place in the universe.
To everyday life. Modern science and technology have changed our lives in many dramatic ways. Aeroplanes, cars, communications satellites, computers, plastics, and television are only a few of the scientific and technological inventions that have transformed human life. Research by nuclear physicists has led to the development of nuclear energy as a source of power. Agricultural output has soared as scientists have developed better varieties of plants and highly effective fertilizers. The development of antibiotics and other new drugs has helped control many infectious diseases. Studies in anatomy and physiology have led to amazing new surgical techniques and to the invention of lifesaving machines that can do the work of such organs as the lungs, kidneys, and heart.
Although scientific and technological achievements have benefited us in numerous ways, they have also created serious problems. The rapid growth of industrial technology, for instance, has resulted in such grave side...