1.1. What is science? How it works

Science from the latin “scientia” (knowledge) can be defined as the knowledge that covers general trues or the way general laws work, especially developed and examined through the scientific method. Therefore, the scientific method plays a fundamental role in science and is a research method with very well defined steps, among them experimentation and observation.  

One of the most important aspects in this method is to check the proposed hypothesis through repeatable experiments, being a hypothesis a possible explanation about a fact that can be tested. At the same time, a hypothesis could become a verified theory, which are examined and verified through phenomena or observations. It should be pointed out that a well proposed hypothesis does not imply its validity, because that hypothesis could be false.

Let’s imagine, in a similar way like Galileo supposedly did, we are on the roof of a building and we would like to measure how long it takes a ball to get to the ground, we can formulate the following hypothesis:

      This time depends on what material the ball is made of.

      This time period is determined by the building height.

      This time interval depends on the ball mass.

      Finally, this time is subject to the look of the ball.

    The first, second and third hypothesis can be true or false but they will always be verified designing several experiments. For instance, we can use balls made of diverse materials (iron, wood, plastic…), with different masses (50 g., 150 g.,    250 g…) or we could throw it from buildings with different heights. However, the last hypothesis is not valid, because appearance cannot be measured and therefore, cannot be tested in experiments.

    The common goal in all sciences is to know. Scientists search to understand the world and the way it works, to do it they use two logical reasoning methods:

          Inductive reasoning: a logical reasoning that uses observations related to each other in order to achieve a general conclusion. From lots of observations, raw data (qualitative and quantitative) and an in-depth analysis, scientists deduce conclusions (inductions) based on evidences.

          Deductive reasoning: this kind of reasoning uses general principles or laws to predict specific results. In consequence, it is a thinking pattern that moves in the opposite direction to the former one. Starting from general principles, a scientist can extrapolate particular results which are valid as long as those general principles are also correct.

    Both types of reasoning are used to allow the advance of scientific knowledge.

    Fuente: OpenStax College, Biology. OpenStax College. 30 May 2013.

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