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Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator. (with answers). Init 9/10/2008 by Daniel R. Barnes. The Scientific Method. PROBLEM. not yet tested. HYPOTHESIS. EXPERIMENT. EXPERIMENTS. EXPERIMENTS. EXPERIMENTS. well- supported. why. what. THEORY. LAW. Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator.

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hypothesis vs theory discriminator
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

(with answers)

Init 9/10/2008 by Daniel R. Barnes

slide2

The Scientific Method

PROBLEM

not yet

tested

HYPOTHESIS

EXPERIMENT

EXPERIMENTS

EXPERIMENTS

EXPERIMENTS

well-

supported

why

what

THEORY

LAW

hypothesis vs theory discriminator1
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

1. The wood in my house is crumbling.

This is a PROBLEM that definitely needs to be fixed, or, at least, explained.

Now that you’ve verbalized your problem, you might want to try to come up with a hypothesis that explains why the wood is crumbling.

You might hypothesize that your wood is crumbling because of . .

termites . . .

fungus . . .

age . . .

evil gremlins . . .

the house being haunted . . .

hypothesis vs theory discriminator2
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

2. I think I might be catching colds from my students.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. It’s not a problem. Catching colds is your problem. Proposing that it might be because of your students is a hypothesis.

You could test your hypothesis by staying home from work and seeing if you get sick less than when you go to work and hang around with your students.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator3
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

3. The pressure of a gas is always inversely proportional to its volume, if the number of gas particles and temperature are kept constant.

This is a LAW. It’s a famous law, in fact, called “Boyle’s Law”.

This is not a theory. It doesn’t attempt to explain why volume goes up when pressure goes down, etc..

(It is theorized that pressure goes up as a gas is compressed because the molecules of the gas have a shorter distance to travel between collisions with the walls of their container, resulting in more frequent collisions, which causes higher pressure. This explanation is part of “kinetic molecular theory”.)

hypothesis vs theory discriminator4
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

4. Transmissible diseases of all kinds are caused and spread by invisible, living particles called “germs”. These germs cause disease by entering the body of a host, deriving nutrition from the host’s body, reproducing themselves within the host, and then spreading to other hosts. The symptoms of illness are caused by the germs stealing energy and resources from the host, from toxic and/or irritating materials created by the germs, and from the germs directly destroying the tissue of the host.

This is a THEORY. It’s the germ theory of disease. It explains how people get sick and spread sickness to others. Like a lot of theories, it uses something that’s pretty much invisible (microscopic germs) to explain something visible (people getting sick).

hypothesis vs theory discriminator5
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

5. 33% of the people in Botswana are HIV positive.

This is a PROBLEM. It is a statement of fact that makes people upset.

One might hypothesize that people in Botswana should use condoms to stop the spread of HIV. One might also suggest that they should practice abstinence (not having sex), and have sex only with their spouse once married. One might also hypothesize that perhaps hospitals in Botswana are re-using needles and spreading HIV that way. Who knows? This statement offers no explanation as to why the problem exists. It’s just a problem.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator6
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

6. The force required to accelerate any object always equals the rate of acceleration multiplied by the object’s mass.

This is a LAW. It’s a very famous law called Newton’s second law of motion. Like many laws in physics, it takes the form of an equation, which, in this case, is F = ma.

The statement doesn’t offer any explanation as to why more force is required to accelerate more massive objects. It just says that this is what happens in real life. Therefore, it’s just a law, not a theory.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator7
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

7. I think the large number of tiny fruit flies buzzing around my house are there because I don’t take out the garbage often enough.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. Your problem is that you’ve got fruit flies buzzing around your house. By offering a possible explanation for your problem, you’ve stated a hypothesis.

To test your hypothesis, you might want to try taking your garbage out more often and see if the fly problem goes away.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator8
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

8. I sneeze too much.

This is a PROBLEM. (I’m assuming that you don’t like sneezing.)

One might hypothesize that the sneezing problem is caused by allergies, a virus, a bacterium or maybe dust in the air.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator9
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

9. The attraction that all matter feels toward all other matter, sometimes called “gravity”, is caused by matter creating curves in the fabric of spacetime. This curvature is also responsible for time slowing down in the area of curvature, as well as the bending of light rays. This curvature also causes light moving toward large objects to increase in frequency while light moving away from large objects decreases in frequency.

This is a THEORY. In fact, it’s part of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

This funny-sounding idea has actually been tested, notably by observing the position of a star close to the sun during a solar eclipse in 1919. If it weren’t tested, it would still be just a hypothesis.

It’s not a law, because it explains why things fall, and why light bends, and why light changes frequency, etc.. Like most theories, it uses something invisible (space curving) to explain something visible (falling, color change, star position change).

hypothesis vs theory discriminator10
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

10. I’m not 100% sure, but I predict that if I rub benzoyl peroxide lotion on my zits, they will disappear..

This is a HYPOTHESIS. The words “I’m not 100% sure” really nail it down as a hypothesis. The speaker is not sure yet, because he hasn’t yet tested his hypothesis with an experiment.

The speaker might want to test his hypothesis by rubbing benzoyl peroxide on his zits and seeing if they actually disappear or not.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator11
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

11. Creatures have the body parts and behaviors that they do because the process of natural selection, cooperating with genetic mutation, allows certain new combinations of genes and certain newly mutated versions of old genes to result in organisms with increased chances of survival and increased rates of reproduction. These new versions of organisms out-compete the old versions, causing their species to change to the newer form, in other words, to evolve. This process typically takes thousands or millions of years to produce visible changes in a species, but it can happen more quickly for organisms that reproduce at a younger age, such as bacteria and viruses.

This is a THEORY. It’s the theory of evolution by natural selection. It uses something invisible (creatures living and dying over millions of years + DNA mutating) to explain something visible (the way creatures are today).

If it weren’t for all the fossil evidence, this would be just a hypothesis. There are plenty of people, though, who think the fossil evidence does not support this theory. They’re called “creationists”, usually. Evolution is a controversial topic.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator12
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

12. Because matter is made of invisibly tiny particles, such as atoms and molecules, and these particles are always in motion, such processes as regelation of ice, diffusion of gases, and brownian motion occur. This kinetic-particulate view of matter also explains why the temperature of absolute zero exists, since absolute zero would correspond to a molecular speed of zero. This view of matter also explains all of the gas laws, such as Boyle’s law, Charles’s law, Guy-Lussac’s law, and Avogadro’s law.

This is a THEORY. It’s kinetic molecular theory, one we mentioned eariler.

Theories often explain laws. You could almost say that’s their job.

Have you noticed that all the really long ones on this worksheet are theories? That’s not an accident. Theories are not usually single ideas, but whole systems of ideas that work together to explain a bunch of stuff. If it’s more than one sentence, there’s a good chance it’s a theory, not a law or something else.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator13
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

13. If I stop eating french fries, the amount of cholesterol in my blood will go down.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. You can almost smell the experiment that comes next . . .

. . . This person should stop eating french fries and see if his cholesterol goes down.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator14
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

14. All of the living things on Earth are the way that they are and act as they do because an intelligent being created them out of nothing about 6000 years ago. Their anatomy, physiology, and behavior are as they are because of the plan that this intelligent being has for the life, the earth, and mankind, and his plan is designed to carry out his purpose for these things, though this purpose is mysterious and incomprehensible to mortal men.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. At least that’s what most scientists will tell you. They’ll claim that it’s not supported by enough evidence to call it a theory. Creationists, on the other hand, will claim that this is a theory. (More than likely, they’ll call it a “fact” instead.) Creationists claim that the Bible and the world around us make it obvious that it’s true.

Since, at the moment, education in America is more or less controled by secular scientists, I’m going to call this a hypothesis for now, but I’m just some twit who teaches high school. I’m not the voice of God. At least I don’t think I am.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator15
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

15. If I give money to the Catholic Church, I will not go to purgatory or hell, but straight to heaven.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. However, it would be very difficult to properly test this hypothesis.

You could test this hypothesis by donating money to the Catholic Church, and then waiting til you die to see if you go to heaven or not. However, it would be very hard to publish your results in a scientific magazine or on the Internet.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator16
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

16. I have a hunch that if I assemble a large enough pile of pure uranium-235, it will explode violently.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. I don’t recommend testing this one, either. It might kill your whole family.

The word “hunch” is a dead giveaway that this is just a hypothesis. The speaker is unsure because his idea has not yet been tested by an experiment.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator17
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

17. I keep trying to light a campfire here on the moon, but the wood just won’t burn.

This is a PROBLEM. The speaker is obviously frustrated.

One might hypothesize that the inability to light a campfire on the moon stems from the fact that there is no air on the moon, and, therefore, no oxygen to react with the wood.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator18
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

18. I suspect that smoking pot is lowering my GPA.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. The problem is the low GPA. Attempting to explain it by blaming it on marijuana is hypothesizing.

As with all good hypotheses, you can easily visualize the experiment this person will do next . . .

. . . He will stop smoking pot and see if his GPA goes up.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator19
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

19. Whenever any observable event occurs in a system, the overall disorder of the system increases.

This is a LAW. It’s a very absolute statement. The word “whenever” reveals it to be a law. The word “whenever” implies “all the time”. This isn’t just something that happened once, it’s happened every time we’ve watched any system over time.

This law is known as the second law of thermodynamics. It predicts the “heat death of the universe”. It also predicts that your room is going to get messier and messier if you don’t clean it up.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator20
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

20. The health of a human being is the result of several factors interacting with one another, including, but not limited to, nutrition, exercise, emotional states such as stress, social interaction, smells in the environment, and many others

This is a THEORY. See the small print? That’s a tip-off.

This theory may actually be considered hypothetical by those who feel it’s not truly backed up by experimental data. I guess that’s a matter of opinion. I think most scientists would at least intuitively agree with it, though.

What makes this statement smell like a theory to me is that it explains why people’s health is what it is.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator21
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

21. Energy can change from one form to another, and may travel from one place to another, but the overall amount of energy in the universe remains constant.

This is a LAW. It’s the first law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of conservation of energy.

Go ahead. Try some experiments. You’ll find, over and over again, that it’s true. Who knows, though? Maybe, someday, someone will do an experiment that shows energy being created out of nothing, or disappearing completely, maybe. Until that day, however, this statement will remain a law.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator22
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

22. Atoms that have a stable “octet” of eight valence electrons in their outermost energy level will tend to neither gain nor lose electrons. Thus, chemical species with stable octets will not take part in spontaneous chemical reactions, since they have no reason to form new bonds.

This is a THEORY. No one has every directly seen the electron orbitial structure of an atom, so it’s awfully difficult to prove, but matter sure acts as though this theory is true.

Noble gases have full “octets” of outer electrons, and they don’t chemically react with hardly anything.

This theory may have to be re-worded a bit, now that I think about it . . . maybe later when I have more time . . .

hypothesis vs theory discriminator23
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

23. I suspect that if I mix neon and oxygen in an airtight container and make a spark in that mixture, the two gases will not react and there will not be an explosion.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. The word “suspect” is the tip-off here. The speaker has good reason to believe he’s right, but he needs to do an experiment to see if he is or not.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator24
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

24. I have reason to believe that the chances are very good that if I bury fish in my garden, my plants will grow bigger and healthier.

This is a HYPOTHESIS. You can see the experiment he’s about to do . . .

. . . This guy is probably going to bury some fish in his yard and see if his plants grow bigger and healthier.

Fish do make great fertilizer. It’ll probably work. PROBABLY.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator25
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

25. Whenever I go to the doctor to get treated for strep throat or gonorrhea, I get a very uncomfortable yeast infection.

This is a PROBLEM. Anyone who’s ever had a yeast infection will agree that this is a problem.

I would hypothesize that your problem is caused by the antibiotics the doctor gives you for your strep throat or gonorrhea. Antibiotics, I suspect, are killing the bacteria in your genital tract that normally keep your yeast population from growing out of control.

Yeah, that’s right. Certain bacteria keep you from getting sick. Bacteria are not all bad. Most of them are harmless or even helpful.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator26
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

26. Volcanoes, earthquakes, and continental drift are caused by convection currents within the partially molten rock of the upper mantle, below the earth’s crust.

This is a THEORY. It’s called the theory of plate tectonics.

This idea was not very well accepted at first, but, eventually, people started to see how the evidence backed it up, time after time.

Like most theories, it uses something invisible (movement of rock and magma underground) to explain something visible (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.).

hypothesis vs theory discriminator27
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

27. Living organisms can only arise from living organisms of the same species, never from non-living matter, and never from members of other species.

This is a LAW. It’s very absolute in its language. It’s got the word “never” in it twice.

If one believes that life arose from non-living chemicals in the ocean here on Earth, however, one might believe that this law needs to be re-worded, however.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator28
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

28. I don’t understand why I get tired and stupid every day during 4th period.

This is a PROBLEM. The speaker is probably not pleased that he gets tired and stupid.

Furthermore, he doesn’t understand why, either. This is clearly an indication of ignorance, which means he hasn’t done a lot of thinking or experimenting yet. This guy is just at the beginning of the scientific process. He has a long way to go to solve his problem.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator29
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

29. I predict that if I leave chunks of tuna around my house, I won’t have to pay as much money to exterminate termites in my house

This is a HYPOTHESIS. You can just smell that experiment coming, can’t you? It smells like tuna!

You might wonder why this guy thinks the way he does. You might feel that this is an uneducated guess. Consider this, though: If you leave out tuna, you’ll attract . . .

Ants! And guess what ants eat?

TERMITES!

hypothesis vs theory discriminator30
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

30. For every force, there is an equal and opposite force.

This is a LAW. Specifically, it’s Newton’s third law of motion.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

See the “every’s”? Those are absolute words. Words like “every”, “always”, “never”, “wherever”, and “whenever” are the hallmarks of laws. They’ve been tested over and over and over again many places, in many ways, by many people. They’re way past the hypothesis stage.

hypothesis vs theory discriminator31
Hypothesis vs Theory Discriminator

For each of the following examples, indicate whether it is a

problem, an hypothesis, a law, or a theory.

31. Punishing students for misbehavior and punishing criminals for committing crimes causes these people to associate pain with the authorities that inflict those punishments, thereby turning those students and criminals into haters of authority and society in general, even if they weren’t antisocial before their punishment. This causes them to have less respect for their fellow man in general. It also causes an increase in dishonesty and subterfuge, which makes crime and misbehavior harder to treat.

Since I know of no evidence that backs this up, I’m going to have to say that this is just a HYPOTHESIS.

It’s interesting, though. I wonder if anyone will ever do an experiment to test it? You’d have to change the government to test this hypothesis, though. That would be hard to do.

It’ll probably never happen.

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