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What Science is
2008/03/03 06:54
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     We begin with a situation. There was a door. I pushed the door but it didn’t open. I increased the force and then the door opened. This event satisfies our common sense. In another situation, I needed to cook a piece of steak. I set the oven at medium and it took five minutes to make it well-done. If I wanted to cook faster, I might set the oven at high power and it would take three minutes for the same job. These are examples from our everyday experiences. We consider them normal, because we can use some reasoning skills to explain them.
     Let’s try to explain the above examples. In the first situation, let’s say the resistance to open the door is 40 units. If I use more than 40 units of force, I can open the door. I originally provided 30 units of force. The door wouldn’t open, because 30 is smaller than 40. My next push gave 50 units of force. The door was moved, because 50 is greater than 40. It is an explanation which involves physical knowledge and an arithmetic method, the comparison of numbers. For the second case, 300 units of heat energy are needed to make the steak well-done. Medium power gave 60 units of heat energy per minute to the steak, 5 minutes yields 60 × 5 = 300 units of heat energy. High power gave 100 units of heat energy, 100 × 3 = 300, so 3 minutes was needed for the equivalent 300 units of total heat energy. This explanation, again, involves physical knowledge and a slightly more difficult arithmetic method, multiplication.
     We experience these kinds of happenings every day. As a result, we know that there are principles to explain things in the world, and that things in the world follow these principles. People who lived thousands of years ago should have experienced similar things during their lifetimes. We, the people of the twenty-first century, are living in the world in which they lived. The rules that governed them also govern us every day. We use many methods they taught us to take advantage of these rules. The activities of explaining things are in a pattern: assumption, deduction, and conclusion. In the previous examples, physical principles for opening the door or cooking food are assumptions; arithmetic methods are applied for deductions; how to open the door or to cook faster are conclusions.
     Science is nothing but extensions of everyday experience like the ones just discussed. All statements in standard scientific materials are in this “assumption, deduction, conclusion” pattern. Science and technology are derived from natural events in our lives with this methodology. The differences between modern science and our everyday experiences are that in modern science, assumptions are sometimes known only to scientists who suggest their existence; deductions are some very difficult mathematics; and conclusions are some fancy statements created to compare with the results of experiments using complex and precise equipments. Every scientist was once a baby knowing nothing, was a child knowing some common sense, and then studied scientific knowledge one level after another, and is trying to create new ideas at today’s frontiers.
     Take physics as an example. The study of physics began with discussions of the natural phenomena: heat, sound, light, electricity, and force. Generations of scientists proposed many theories as assumptions. The conclusions deduced from these theories match things happening in our world. They established the theory of atoms and subatomic particles (protons, neutrons, electrons, etc.), Newton’s laws of force, Maxwell’s laws of electricity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum mechanics. To explain these theories, they established the standard model, which describes the properties and behavior of elementary particles, like quarks and leptons and the interactions between these particles. To explain the standard model, some top physicists proposed the superstring theory, but it is not successful today.
     Modern science is really an astounding achievement. We have a great deal of knowledge in many different areas. Besides physics, the direct extension of research on everyday experience, we have:
     ● Mathematics — the specialized studies of the methods and skills of deductions from easy to hard, and from hard to very hard
     ● Chemistry — research on the behavior and interactions of materials
     ● Biology — research on living things
     ● Earth science (including geology, geography, meteorology, oceanography, etc.) — research of the things on earth
     ● Astronomy — research of the things beyond earth
     And so on. Modern science has proven its power by the invention of many things that change the lives of mankind and the face of the world. From the observations of the world, scientists proposed many theories to explain them. Scientists and engineers apply these theories with many smart ideas to create numerous appliances to benefit people (or to harm people sometimes). We can safely say that science has revealed a great part of the reality of our world.
     Our universe seemingly always follows these systematic rules found by scientific activities. Naturally, we have some questions such as the following: Is there something that these rules can’t explain? Does anything against these rules ever happen? Is there any supernatural existence? This book tries to convince you that the answers to these questions are positive. Science is able to explain many things, and the applications of science have greatly influenced this world. Nevertheless, there is evidence that there are things beyond science.
     To illustrate this point, let us discuss another question. How do we use scientific knowledge and methods to explain the idea of “myself”?

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2樓. 0VHYJH
2009/08/11 22:50
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1樓. 稀有動物--稀有的 隨想隨寫--母愛篇
2008/04/05 12:33
I admire your good faith.
This kind of articles are not easy to catch the readers eyes.
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