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Science

Science

Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

The earliest roots of science can be traced to Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in around 3500 to 3000 BCE. Their contributions to mathematics, astronomy, and medicine entered and shaped Greek natural philosophy of classical antiquity, whereby formal attempts were made to explain events of the physical world based on natural causes. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, knowledge of Greek conceptions of the world deteriorated in Western Europe during the early centuries (400 to 1000 CE) of the Middle Ages but was preserved in the Islamic Golden Age. The recovery and assimilation of Greek works and Islamic inquiries into Western Europe from the 10th to 13th century revived natural philosophy, which was later transformed by the Scientific Revolution that began in the 16th century as new ideas and discoveries departed from previous Greek conceptions and traditions. The scientific method soon played a greater role in knowledge creation and it was not until the 19th century that many of the institutional and professional features of science began to take shape.

Modern science is typically divided into three major branches that consist of the natural sciences (e.g., biology, chemistry, and physics), which study nature in the broadest sense; the social sciences (e.g., economics, psychology and sociology), which study individuals and societies; and the formal sciences (e.g., logic, mathematics and theoretical computer science), which study abstract concepts. There is disagreement, however, on whether the formal sciences actually constitute a science as they do not rely on empirical evidence. Disciplines that utilize existing scientific knowledge for practical purposes, such as engineering and medicine, are described as applied sciences.

Science is based on research, which is commonly conducted in academic and research institutions as well as in government agencies and companies. The practical impact of scientific research has led to the emergence of science policies that seek to influence the scientific enterprise by prioritizing the development of commercial products, armaments, health care, and environmental protection.

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Carbon nanotube
Nanotechnology comprises technological developments on the nanometer scale, usually 1 to 100 nm (1/1,000 µm, or 1/1,000,000 mm). A possible way to interpret this size is to take the width of a human hair, and imagine something ten thousand times smaller. The term has sometimes been applied to microscopic technology.

Nanotechnology is any technology which exploits phenomena and structures that can only occur at the nanometer scale, which is the scale of several atoms and small molecules. The United States's National Nanotechnology Initiative website defines nanotechnology as "the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications."

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Rust and dirt on a baking plate.
Credit: Roger McLassus

Rust is the chemical substance formed when iron compounds corrode in the presence of oxygen and water. It is a mixture of iron oxides and hydroxides. Rusting is a common term for corrosion, and usually corrosion of steel. Iron is found naturally in the ore haematite as iron oxide, and metallic iron tends to return to a similar state when exposed to air, (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc.) and water. This corrosion is due to the oxidation reaction when iron metal returns to an energetically favourable state. Energy is given off when rust forms. The process of rusting can be summarized as three basic stages: The formation of iron(II) ions from the metal; the formation of hydroxide ions; and their reaction together, with the addition of oxygen, to create rust.

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Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) was an Austrian monk who is often called the "father of genetics" for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants. Mendel showed that there was particular inheritance of traits according to his laws of inheritance.

It was not until the early 20th century that the importance of his ideas was realized. In 1900, his work was rediscovered by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erich von Tschermak. His results were quickly replicated, and genetic linkage quickly worked out. Biologists flocked to the theory, as while it was not yet applicable to many phenomena, it sought to give a genotypic understanding of heredity which they felt was lacking in previous studies of heredity which focused on phenotypic approaches.

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