• Question: what is sciance ?

    Asked by saffroncumner to Alastair, Emma, Hywel, Keith, Vicki on 15 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Hywel Vaughan

      Hywel Vaughan answered on 15 Jun 2010:

      Science is everything! If you tried to picture a world without science, you would actually just have a plain empty field. The most basic of tools are a form of science. The materials you use, the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the place you live, even the things you do – they are ALL science.
      Science is pushing the boundaries and trying something new. Science, most simply, is looking for answers.

    • Photo: Alastair Sloan

      Alastair Sloan answered on 15 Jun 2010:

      Hi Saffron

      That’s a philosophical question. Science is really an organized way of collecting knowledge about the world we live in and the world/universe around us and arranging that knowledge into testable hypotheses, laws and theories. But what we all call science and know as science is scientific method – the use of observation, experiments, maths, measurement and repetition. To be really thought of as a science, knowledge should be able to undergo repeated tests by different people. To make it easy for us to study the world and universe around us we arrange these theories into groups or scientific fields so that we study small parts of it.

      Science is all around us and any question we ask of our universe is science

    • Photo: Vicki Stevenson

      Vicki Stevenson answered on 15 Jun 2010:

      That’s a question that a lot of people get confused about! Many people aren’t sure where science stops and engineering begins. Some people even think that you have to be wearing a lab coat to do science!
      I’d probably go with science being “gathering and organizing information into testable theories” while engineering is the application of science to make something. Which leaves “applied science” loitering somewhere in the middle!

    • Photo: Keith Brain

      Keith Brain answered on 15 Jun 2010:

      This is a key and important question. At some universities, there are whole departments (“Philosophy of Science”) which work on very little other than this question. My favorite scientific philosopher is Karl Popper, so my ideas of what makes science science are based around his ideas …

      To me, science is a way of constructing generalizable ideas (called hypotheses), from which predictions arise that can be tested. The scientific method involves testing these predictions and seeing whether the hypotheses stand up to the test. If they don’t, then the hypotheses need to rejected … hopefully someone will come up with a better idea.

      A scientific theory might be something like, “All water molecules have the same mass”. This can be easily tested, by taking water molecules from lots of different places and weighing them (which is technically possible, although there are easier testing methods involving a bit of chemistry!). If the water molecules are all the same weight, then we can maintain the theory, but only for as long as it isn’t refuted (shown to be wrong). By the way, this theory happens to be wrong – water molecules aren’t all of the same mass – so the theory needs to be rejected.