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Scientific Method. Jeremy S. Sandrik Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program July 12, 2010. What is it?. What is it?. Anything missing?. What is it?.

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Scientific method

Scientific Method

Jeremy S. Sandrik

Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program

July 12, 2010

What is it1
What is it?

Anything missing?

What is it2
What is it?

What is it3
What is it?

What is it4
What is it?

  • Varies with disciplines, scientists

  • Systematic approach to learning about the universe (or some part of it)

  • Emphasis on evidence and logic

  • Intuition and creativity help


  • Suggested explanation for observation

  • Must be testable

    • Don’t blame the unicorns

  • Keep an open mind

Scientific laws
Scientific laws

  • Statement of what will happen under a certain set of conditions

  • Does not explain, only predicts

  • Sometimes expressed as eqn.

  • Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation

Scientific theories
Scientific theories

  • Explains and unifies

  • Repeated validation

  • Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity explains gravity

Observations vs inferences
Observations vs. inferences

  • Observation: receiving knowledge through the senses

    • Enhanced by instruments

    • Bottom up process

    • Just the facts

  • Inference: drawing a conclusion based on observation & deduction

    • Can be biased

    • Top down process

There is no proof
There is no proof

  • Theories and laws are never proven

  • Best explanation for observations

  • Contradictory knowledge changes the game

Communication is key
Communication is key

  • Science moves forward through consensus

  • Why should we disclose scientific results?

Scientific method

"If we lived on a planet where nothing ever changed, there would be little to do. There would be nothing to figure out. There would be no impetus for science. And if we lived in an unpredictable world, where things changed in random or very complex ways, we would not be able to figure things out. But we live in an in-between universe, where things change, but according to patterns, rules, or as we call them, laws of nature. If I throw a stick up in the air, it always falls down. If the sun sets in the west, it always rises again the next morning in the east. And so it becomes possible to figure things out. We can do science, and with it we can improve our lives."

- Carl Sagan, Cosmos