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

Scientific method

Science is the methodical study of nature including testable explanations and predictions. From classical antiquity through the 19th century, science as a type of knowledge was more closely linked to philosophy than it is now and, in fact, in the Western world, the term "natural philosophy" encompassed fields of study that are today associated with science, such as astronomy, medicine, and physics. However, during the Islamic Golden Age foundations for the scientific method were laid by Ibn al-Haytham in his Book of Optics. While the classification of the material world by the ancient Indians and Greeks into air, earth, fire and water was more philosophical, medieval Middle Easterns used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.

Today, the ever-evolving term "science" 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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New horizons (NASA)
New Horizons is a NASA unmanned spacecraft designed to fly by Pluto and its moons (including Charon) and transmit images and data back to Earth. Mission planners hope that NASA will approve plans to continue the mission with a fly-by of a Kuiper Belt Object and return further data. A consortium of organizations, led by Southwest Research Institute and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, has built the craft. The mission's principal investigator is S. Alan Stern of Southwest Research. The probe successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 14:00 EST January 19, 2006 and flew past Jupiter on February 28, 2007 for a gravity assist.

The primary scientific objectives are to characterize the global geology and morphology and map the surface composition of Pluto and Charon, and study the neutral atmosphere of Pluto and its escape rate. Other objectives include studying time variability of Pluto's surface and atmosphere; imaging and mapping areas of Pluto and Charon at high-resolution; characterizing Pluto's upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and energetic particle environment; searching for an atmosphere around Charon; refining bulk parameters of Pluto and Charon; and searching for additional satellites and rings.

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Sonoluminescence is the emission of light by bubbles in a liquid excited by sound.
Credit: Dake

Sonoluminescence is the emission of short bursts of light from imploding bubbles in a liquid when excited by sound. The effect was first discovered at the University of Cologne in 1934 as a result of work on sonar. H. Frenzel and H. Schultes put an ultrasound transducer in a tank of photographic developer fluid. They hoped to speed up the development process. Instead, they noticed tiny dots on the film after developing, and realized that the bubbles in the fluid were emitting light with the ultrasound turned on. It was too difficult to analyze the effect in early experiments because of the complex environment of a large number of short-lived bubbles. (This experiment is also ascribed to N. Marinesco and J.J. Trillat in 1933).

Sonoluminescence may or may not occur whenever a sound wave of sufficient intensity induces a gaseous cavity within a liquid to quickly collapse. This cavity may take the form of a pre-existing bubble, or may be generated through a process known as cavitation. Sonoluminescence in the laboratory can be made to be stable, so that a single bubble will expand and collapse over and over again in a periodic fashion, emitting a burst of light each time it collapses.

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Michio Kaku (Kanji: 加来 道雄) (born January 24, 1947 in the United States) is a Japanese American theoretical physicist, tenured professor, and co-creator of string field theory, a branch of string theory.

Dr. Kaku is the author of several scholarly, Ph.D.-level textbooks and has had more than 70 articles published in physics journals covering topics such as superstring theory, supergravity, supersymmetry, and hadronic physics. He is also known as an author of popular science books, including the best-sellers Beyond Einstein, Visions, Hyperspace, and Parallel Worlds, and the host of several radio shows, as well as being a popular figure in science television shows due to his accessible approach to the layman on explaining complex physics.

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by Jon Lomberg

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