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What is science?

posted Jan 28, 2015, 10:07 PM by Ranmini Perera   [ updated Jul 16, 2016, 11:17 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]

Fig1. Some scientists in the field.
For some, "Scientists are demi gods. For another set they are villains."   

Science has given us drugs for better health as well as for ill effects. 
Some say , the scientist say one thing today and tomorrow he would change; so how could we trust them? Let us try to fathom what science really is.

Live, staff   

  • Science is a systematic and logical approach to discovering how things in the universe work. ……science aims for measurable results through testing and analysis.
  • Science is based on fact, not opinion or preferences.
  • The process of science is designed to challenge ideas through research.
  • It is not meant to prove theories, but rule out alternative explanations until a likely conclusion is reached.
The scientific method:
  1. The hypothesis must be testable and falsifiable.
  2. Research must involve deductive reasoning, not inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is the process of using true premises to reach a logical true conclusion.
  3. An experiment should include a dependent variable (which does not change) and an independent variable (which does change).
  4. An experiment should include an experimental group and a control group. The control group is what the experimental group is compared against.                 Understanding


Science is

  both a body of knowledge and a process



  on going.

  a global human endeavor


What some of the leading scientists have to say.


 Asimov:- Isaac:- Professor of biochemistry at Boston University. Science Fiction and  Popular science  writer.
 "Science does not purvey absolute truth, science is a mechanism. It’s a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature, it’s a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match.”
Born Max:- Noble laureate (1954)  best known for his statistical analysis of how subatomic particles behave.
 “Science is not formal logic — it needs the free play of the mind in as great a degree as any other creative art. It is true that this is a gift which can hardly be taught, but its growth can be encouraged in those who already possess it.”
 Curie Marie:- Noble Laureate in Physics and chemistry. Discovered Radium.
 “We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity.”

“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done”



 Einstein Albert:- Theoretical physicist, best known for his theory of relativity and the equation,
                            E = mc 2
   “One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike — and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”
   “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious — the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

Feynman Richard:-  Noble Laureate. Professor in Theoretical physics, Princeton.
 “It is not science to know how to change Centigrade to Fahrenheit. It's necessary, but it is not exactly science”
“Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers of the preceding generation.”
"that all things are made of atoms--little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another".                                  
  In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied..

Firestein   Stuart:- Professor, Biological Sciences at Columbia University,

 “Real science is a revision in progress, always. It proceeds in fits and starts of ignorance”.

Freeman Dyson:-  Birth 1923  Retired Professor in theoretical physics at Princeton.

“All of science is uncertain and subject to revision. The glory of science is to imagine more than we can prove.” 



Friedrich von Schiller (Ger) 1759 – 1805
 "To one it is a high heavenly goddess to another it's a cow that produces them with butter. " 



Hans Bethe 1906 – 2005 (Ger)

“……..was able to give definitive answers to the problem of energy generation in stars. By stipulating and analyzing the nuclear reactions responsible for the phenomenon, he explained how stars could continue to burn for billions of years………   From Encyclopaedia Britannica”

 Today we are rightly in an era of disarmament and dismantlement of nuclear weapons. But in some countries nuclear weapons development still continues. Whether and when the various Nations of the world can agree to stop this is uncertain. …….. Accordingly, I call on all scientists in all countries to cease and desist from work creating, developing, improving and manufacturing further nuclear weapons and, for that matter, other weapons of potential mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons.” 

                                                        Hans Bethe late in his life

 Oppenheimer J Robert:- considered  as the father of the Atomi bomb.
 "Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man."
 "Both the man of science and the man of action live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it. "
 “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

The quotation is from The Bhagavad-Gita  which is an extract from this stanza.


If the radiance of a thousand suns

Were to burst at once into the sky,

That would be like the splendour of the Mighty One...
I am become Death,The shatterer of Worlds. 



Paul Dirac 1902 1984 (Eng/Swiss mother)


  “In science one tries to tell the people in such a way as to be understood by everyone. something that no  one knew before. But in the case of poetry it is the exact opposite.”    

Sagan Carl:- Astronomer, educator and author, Perhaps the world's greatest populariser of science,

 “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”

Strauss Claude:- (1908-2008) Father of modern anthropology .

 The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.”




Wilson E. O.:-

 “The heart of the scientific method is the reduction of perceived phenomena to fundamental, testable principles. The elegance, we can fairly say the beauty, of any particular scientific generalization is measured by its simplicity relative to the number of phenomena it can explain”.