INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICAL SCIENCE Chapter 1 What Is Science? What is science? Quantitative description Objects and properties Quantifying properties Measurement systems Standard metric units Metric prefixes Understanding from measurement The nature of science The Scientific Method
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What Is Science?
Measurement: uses quantitative referents - “units”
Essential - a number and name for the referent unit
Many units based upon parts of the human body and other objects
Different units are not systematically related
Metric (SI) system
Established in 1791
7 base units: meter (m), kilogram (kg), second (s), ampere (A), kelvin (K), mole (mol) and candela (cd)
All other units derive from theseMeasurement systems(based upon standardized units)
Charge (See electricity lecture)
All other properties (e.g. volume) derived from these. So other properties are referred to as derived properties.
Measurement information used to describe
Example: Dimensions of a cube
Ratio - analysis though a quotient of 2 numbers
Example: Area/volume of a cube
Applications: crushed ice
melts faster; large potatoes
are easier to peel
Beginnings of modern science ~300 years ago
Dictionary definition of science: 1. Knowledge. 2. Knowledge acquired by study. 3. Systematized knowledge of any one department of the study of mind or matter, as, the science of physics. Obviously, not exactly how a scientist would define science. Science is really much more than the definition above; science involves a certain attitude about nature, science involves processes or methods, and science results in products. David H. Ost and David George (1975) in an article "The contradictory Faces of Science" (in The Science Teacher, V. 42, No. 10, p. 14) gives the following definition of science:
"...science is a human activity that has evolved as an intellectual tool to facilitate describing and ordering the environment. Once one accepts the idea that science does not exist in any other realm but the mind, it ceases to be a 'thing', an entity with its own existence. Though scientific truth or fact is ideally objective, it is subject to human perception and logic..... As a method, science is relatively stable and universally applied, while as a body of knowledge, it is constantly changing."
Hypothesis - a tentative explanation for some observation
Experiment - recreation of an event or occurrence to test a hypothesis (However, we can also make predictions about past events, and then make observations of nature to verify predictions. This is often done in Geology and Astronomy.)
Controlled experiment - comparing two situations with all factors alike except one
Misleading and often absurd claims of scientific results